This summer has seen the managerial merry-go-round at full tilt. Five Premier League clubs have installed new bosses during the close season.
While the media spotlight focused on messers Rodgers, Lambert and Laudrup, Steve Clarke's appointment as West Bromwich Albion head coach slipped under the radar.
Despite his low key coronation, it will be fascinating to see how the Scot adapts to life at The Hawthorns. The 48-year-old arrives with an impressive CV. Clarke was a fine full-back in his day in a very good Chelsea side. He was part of the Blues' 1997 FA Cup winning side. A year later he helped the Stamford Bridge club win the European Cup Winners' Cup.
After his playing career ended Clarke went into coaching. He rose to prominence as Ruud Gullit's right hand man at Newcastle United. When the flamboyant Dutchman was sacked, his former Chelsea team-mate became caretaker boss. After a 5-1 defeat to Manchester United, Clarke vacated the St James' Park hot seat.
In 2004 the Scottish international returned to his spiritual home. Clarke was appointed assistant manager at Chelsea. The former Blues' favourite formed a formidable partnership with the Special One, Jose Mourinho. The pair oversaw a glittering period for the West London club. In little more than three years Mourinho's side had clinched six major trophies.
The new Albion manager also lifted silverware at Liverpool. He was Kenny Dalglish's number two when the Reds won the 2012 Carling Cup. You can certainly understand why the Baggies' board turned to Clarke, but can he cut it at the sharp end?
Clarke is in the unusual position of inheriting a successful side. The Black Country club finished 10h last season, their highest finish since the days of Regis, Cunningham and Brown. In an ideal world the Baggies would still be under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, but when England came calling the board turned to Clarke.
On the plus side the new Hawthorns chief has a talented pool of players at his disposal. The skills of James Morrison and Chris Blunt are particularly pleasing on the eye. This midfield artistry is complemented by a substantial goal threat. Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie has proven himself at the highest level. The capture of Ben Foster was another Hodgson masterstroke, the former Manchester United and Birmingham City goalkeeper remains one of the country's best custodians.
The rookie gaffer may also benefit from West Brom's continental-style management structure. Clarke will be assisted by Dan Ashworth, the club's highly successful technical director. Ashworth is in charge of player recruitment at The Hawthorns. The talent scout will identify a promising player and recommend him to the head coach. In theory Clarke will then be able to devote more time to coaching. It is unlikely the new boss will be handed a large war chest. West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace has always been reluctant to splash the cash. Some Baggies fans has become frustrated with the board's stringed transfer policy.
Like any manager Clarke will be judged on results, but he should be mindful of how he obtains success. Albion fans like to see their side play with style and flair. The tradition dates back to the 1950s when West Brom were a force to be reckoned with. Ron Atkinson's celebrated side of the late seventies were also practitioners of the beautiful game. In contrast Bobby Gould was castigated when his West Brom side employed the long ball.
Like many high profile number twos, Clarke has a lot to prove. History is littered with established coaches who have failed in the top job. Brian Kidd was higthly regarded when he was assistant manager at Manchester United. In 1998 Blackburn Rovers installed Fergie's protege as their new manager. Kidd lasted just over a year as Rovers were relegated. Steve Kean is another highly respected coach to suffer Ewood Park misery. While Terry Connor failed to muster a single win when he took over at Wolves.
As with everything there are exceptions. Steve McClaren bucked the trend at club level. McClaren succeeded Kidd as Sir Alex Ferguson's deputy in 1998. A year later United clinched their historic treble. With the Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup pocketed the ginger one decided to go solo. In 2001 he was named as Middlesbrough's new manager. In his five years on Teesside McClaren piloted Boro to European qualification and Carling Cup glory. Chris Hugton was another sidekick who excelled in the hot seat.
But West Brom fans of a certain generation may be wary of another young buck. In 1971 Albion sacked Alan Ashman. Ashman could consider himself unlucky. He was in charge of the 1968 FA Cup winning side. Two years later he took the Baggies back to Wembley in the League Cup Final. Ashman was replaced by Don Howe. Howe received plenty of plaudits when he coached the Arsenal double-winning side. The bright new dawn turned into a bleak nightmare. West Bromwich Albion were relegated in 1973. Two years later Don Howe was sacked.
So what does the future hold for Steve Clarke? Can he succeed at the Hawthorns or have the Baggies boobed by appointing the Scot? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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