West Bromwich Albion axed head coach Darren Moore following a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town despite enjoying a seven-point cushion on a Championship play-off place.
Given the popular former playing favourite had a similar win percentage to ex-Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo, who took the West Midlands outfit up into the Premier League in 2010, Moore’s sacking came as something of a surprise.
Although held at home by basement side Ipswich, West Brom recently beat local rivals Aston Villa 2-0 away. Poor home form is only the explanation for removing Moore after Albion won just one of their last eight at The Hawthorns in all competitions.
Bookmakers Betfair have priced up a market on his successor and an early gamble has developed on Slavisa Jokanovic. The former Fulham and Watford boss earned promotions from the Championship with both his previous clubs in English football.
Jokanovic certainly looks the horse for this particular course with the Baggies fourth in the league. They’ll have a job to catch the top three now, so securing and preparing for a successful play-off campaign is the brief.
Given the attractive football Fulham played under Jokanovic last season as they went up via the play-offs, it’s easy to see why he’s prominent in the next West Brom manager betting as the 7/4 favourite to succeed Moore.
Johnson and Wagner head alternatives
Bristol City boss Lee Johnson has the West Country club in the hunt for a top six finish. He’s taken the Robins to improved positions in the Championship table in both of his seasons at Ashton Gate to date.
If Albion want Johnson, then they may have to make a move now as the rumour mill has suggested Fulham could approach him in the summer.
Scott Parker is in caretaker charge at Craven Cottage until the end of season but, if as expected, the West London club is relegated from the Premier League, that might dampen his chances of the position full-time.
Johnson is 7/1 with Betfair to be next West Brom manager – the same price as ex-Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner. Like Jokanovic, Wagner has a successful promotion via the playoffs on his CV.
The Terriers were a surprise package when going up a couple of years ago and their subsequent Premier League second season struggles that led to his departure shouldn’t reflect badly upon Wagner.
A bigger and better job in the Bundesliga might come up if he sits tight until the summer, however. Wagner was also linked with Leicester City when Claude Puel was sacked, but the Foxes appointed Brendan Rodgers instead.
Former players have outside shout
After trying one ex-Baggies player, the board may go down a different route but Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes always gets linked with a return to The Hawthorns.
He’s available at bigger odds of 10/1 and, having seen Rodgers leave Scottish football to move south of the border, it’s not impossible McInnes might follow suit.
Michael Appleton also played for Albion and was on the staff there as first team coach under Di Matteo and Roy Hodgson. He’s a 14/1 chance, the same price as former West Brom manager Tony Mowbary who is now at Blackburn Rovers.
Birmingham City bosses past and present – Harry Redknapp (7/1) and Garry Monk (14/1) – wouldn’t be popular options among Baggies fans.
Dudley-born Sam Allardyce completes the picture at 11/1 but, after the way supporters turned on Tony Pulis, appointing an old school English manager might be a mistake.