UNFORTUNATELY, I’m not sure that the 1-0 win against Wigan Athletic at the Amex on Tuesday night will ultimately stop the inevitable departure of current Albion boss Sami Hyypia.
With new management at Bolton and Birmingham also recording victories on Tuesday night, the wrong set of results on Saturday could yet see the Albion entering the international break in the Championship relegation zone.
Hyypia’s football pedigree cannot be questioned, with more than 300 appearances for Liverpool over a decade and honours including two FA Cups, two League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League winners medal. But, as both Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, and many others before and after them found out, this doesn’t always equate to being a good manager.
Many fans still question whether Hyypia will be able to consistently cut it in the Championship over the course of a whole season.
Looking at his Wikipedia page, it’s clear, away from football, he’s a loving family man and an all-round good egg with his charity work. So, the kindest thing that can probably be said, not for the first time in the history of past Albion managers, is he in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Even now, supporters question if he was the club’s first choice?
For all the spin-doctoring back in the summer about quality applicants, have the Albion, on the face of it, ended up with someone who, in the long run, won’t cut it at Championship level?
It’s not as if the alarm bells didn’t start ringing with some supporters early on. And it’s clear that it’s polarised opinion on the legendary Albion internet forum, NorthStandChat.
Fans who did express initial concerns were dismissed by another faction of the support in a graphic and uncomplimentary term – a barb which has come back to haunt its original authors in recent weeks.
In fact, the whole saga has almost appeared to split the support on NSC, which, is something, as both an Albion fan and someone who enjoys reading NSC, that is almost as worrying as the Albion’s form.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that Paul Barber, or anyone else at the club is controlling or censoring the forum, but as emotions run high certain threads have been deemed controversial /libellous by moderators and have been removed.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I consider the platform to air my views in this newspaper a privilege and perhaps did the wheels actually start to come off with the departure of Gus Poyet – and was qualification for the play-offs last season more about luck than ability?
Looking at his track record, it’s clear to see that, given the right circumstances, Paul Barber is very good at his job.
However, as we all know in life, not everything goes to plan, and clearly that’s what is happening at the Albion.
It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong, I’ve had to do it in the past, both on radio and in this column – and will do again if neccessary – so I hope that Paul Barber is a big enough character to realise that’s he’s totally misread the situation and still has time to turn things around, both on and off the field.
However, in his defence, and indeed to his credit, even in these difficult times, he’s still prepared to enter into dialogue with some of his fiercest critics.
Losing money with 25,000 attendances in the Championship is worrying, losing money with 15,000 watching in League One is far more frightening.