West Bromwich Albion have identified Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael a potential appointment if Sam Allardyce does not commit his future to the Premier League outfit, as reported by the Sun (18 April, page 67).
Of course, how much longer West Brom are ‘a Premier League outfit’ is anyone’s guess.
Stunning performances in their last two games, a 5-2 thrashing of Chelsea followed up by a 3-0 trouncing of Southampton, have given Baggies fans the tiniest flicker of belief.
Although, if Allardyce’s suddenly on-song side are going to emulate that ‘Great Escape’ of 2005, they need Burnley, Brighton or Newcastle to endure a collapse of almost unprecedented proportions. The gap to safety still stands at nine points.
According to the Sun, West Brom are hoping to retain the services of Allardyce even if they cannot replicate Bryan Robson’s legendary achievements 16 years ago.
If the 66-year-old decides to walk away, the Midland giants will be prepared for that too.
West Brom have allegedly identified one of the most unique and eye-catching tacticians in the Football League as ‘Big Sam’s’ potential replacement.
46-year-old Ismael has done a remarkable job at Oakwell, transforming an unfancied Barnsley side into genuine promotion contenders while introducing an exhausting high-pressing game-plan that would make Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds look comparatively laborious.
Ismael, who has also been linked with the Crystal Palace post, signed a three-year deal with Barnsley in October.
“Valerien was at the top of our list because we at the club have recognised that the style of play, the counter-pressing, the high pressing, gegenpressing if you will, is the main element behind what we are trying to achieve with our group,” Barnsley CEO Dane Murphy told the Sportsman recently.