West Bromwich Albion- The FA's Academy?
Five months ago, everything was rosy in the world of Baggieland. We had one of the best managers in the business and the best Director of Football. Now, they have both been poached by the F.A. A massive compliment to our clubs excellent progress but potentially a crushing blow to our future. If this was to happen to most clubs, a period of decline would surely follow. Will this be the case for us? I think not.
There is no denying it's a huge double blow. Both men were brilliant for us. However, part of the success has been the systems that they have worked with. Implemented by the Chairman, carried out perfectly by Roy and Dan through their hard work, skill and thorough professionalism. The foundation is still there, the systems still in place.
The task will be to replace both men with people that possess the same drive and enthusiasm and ability to work under financial constraint.
A tough task but not impossible.
Steve Clarke has made a decent start of filling Roy's boots. Whilst big tests lie ahead, the early signs are that it is a good fit. The loss against Fulham was a bad one but we have to accept that these days will happen. Most Baggies wince at the memory of Swansea away last year. It's how you react to these defeats that count, not the result itself.
The squad we have is strong through midfield and we have real depth and variety up front. The signing of Yacob has been inspired. The football has been more attractive to watch without losing the solidity, Fulham apart. My one big concern is the lack of defensive depth. The first choice back four is fine, beyond that looks flimsy. Work has to be done in January.
Thankfully, it looks like the hardball played by the Chairman will mean that Dan will be here plug the gaps during the January window.
Replacing Dan will be arguably tougher than replacing Roy. There is a fairly small pool of talent in this area. We are unlikely to find someone who is a perfect fit as they probably don't exist. The nearest example is Reading's Nicky Hammond but I can't see us luring him away as his star is almost as high as Dan's. Plus he is on much more money.
No other obvious candidates jump out. I wouldn't be surprised to see a relative unknown get the job. Or an appointment from within maybe? Tony Spearing, our Head of European Recruitment or Stuart White, our Head of UK Recruitment could possibly make the step up. Both know the job, both know the constraints and both can spot a player brilliantly.
At least the days are gone where you feared David Pleat appearing on the East Stand car park.
The one thing that makes me confident is that the man making the choice has had a pretty good track record of late of making the right appointments. Plus Dan is still there, and I am sure he has already got a shortlist of quality replacements for him drawn up. A man with the same fantastic work ethic, drive and patience.
So, what could be a disaster is going to be nothing more than a tyre change. The chassis is still solid, the engine fine tuned. There will be life after Roy and Dan, the future is still bright.