Pardew waits in the wings as Megson welcomes Newcastle

The first game at the Hawthorns of the post-Pulis era sees the visit of Newcastle United and what seems likely to be the second and final game of Gary Megson’s spell in caretaker charge of first team affairs.

It will be Rafa Benítez’s first visit to West Bromwich Albion since May 2009 when his Liverpool side ran out 2-0 winners to confirm relegation for Tony Mowbray’s side. He took over Chelsea in 2012 just after Roberto di Matteo was sacked a few days after losing at Hawthorns.

The 57-year-old Spaniard is a firm fans’ favourite at St James’s Park having stuck by the club despite their relegation to the Championship last year, and then led them to the title last season. After a decent start to the season, the Magpies found themselves in the top six a month ago, but they are now on a run of four straight defeats and if the Baggies make that five, they would move level on points with the Geordies.

Any sort of victory appeared a distant dream for Albion ten days ago, but the team that earned a well-deserved point at Wembley on Saturday looked so much better than the one that succumbed so meekly to Huddersfield and Chelsea. I was dubious as to whether Gary Megson would have much of an impact on the team, but with only one change to the team that started against Chelsea, Sam Field in place of Grzegorz Krychowiak, the whole attitude and approach seemed much more positive. It was obviously helped by the early goal that Rondón took very well, Albion can consider themselves a tad unlucky that they didn’t get all three points. The Venezuelan’s chance late on was a glorious one, but I think he was pretty much out on his feet by that point.

The performance and the result should give Albion confidence as they take on a side who themselves are struggling for form, particularly on the road. They have picked up just four points from their six games away from the North East so far this season, a win at Swansea in September and a draw at Southampton last month, but they will be eager to halt their current losing streak.

Newcastle last visited the Hawthorns just after Christmas two years ago and Darren Fletcher scored the only goal of the game making it four wins for Albion in the last seven meetings between the sides at home. The Magpies have won twice in that period in West Bromwich with the latest a 2-0 win in November 2014 when Alan Irvine’s reign at the Hawthorns was drawing to a close.

In the opposing bench that day was a certain Alan Pardew. The win over West Brom was the fifth in a run of six consecutive victories for Newcastle in all competitions which saw the South Londoner win the Manager of the Month award for November. Like Alan Irvine, Pardew’s reign was also coming to an end and they both took charge of their final games for their respective clubs on 28th December – for Pardew, however, it was his own decision to leave as he was given permission to talk to Crystal Palace following the sacking of Neil Warnock.

Pardew had never been popular at Newcastle and a poor run of results towards the end of the 2013-14 season had damaged his position still further, but the club were handily placed in ninth place when he left. He guided Palace to a safe mid-table position that season and then took them to the FA Cup final in 2016, although their league form suffered to the extent that they only managed one victory in the Premier League after Christmas. It was not sufficiently better last season and Pardew got his marching orders from Selhurst Park just before Christmas last year after a run of eight defeats in ten matches.

It sounds remarkably familiar but it does seem as if the 56-year-old is destined to be the next Head Coach at the Hawthorns. Reports suggest that he will be at the match on Tuesday evening and will be officially announced on Wednesday to be in place in time for the visit of his former club, Crystal Palace, on Saturday.

As I said in my article last week, I feel that Albion could do better than Pardew, but it is an appointment I can understand, at least as a short term solution. I don’t particularly like him as I find him arrogant and smarmy, but his style of football should be much better than we have seen for the last three years and his record suggests that he should have a positive impact on results at least initially.

I would not be happy were he to be given a contract longer than the end of next season, ideally it would be just for this season, but that may be wishful thinking. I will always give my support to the team and, as I did with Pulis who I did not want in the first place, I will always be prepared to give him a chance.

As for the interim Head Coach, Megson has brought back some good memories for me, and I think it has done for him too. It’s perhaps a mistake to read in too much to that, but I’ll never forget what he did for this club and, if he can conjure up three points against Newcastle, he will deserve our thanks once again.


It’s amazing what a difference a week can make – Albion looked a much better team already at Wembley, and I can see them following up that encouraging point with a victory over Newcastle.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion D L L L L D
Newcastle United D W L L L L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

6 Feb 2016 – Premier League
Newcastle United 1 (Mitrovic)
West Brom 0

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

28 Dec 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Fletcher)
Newcastle United 0

Last win

28 Dec 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Fletcher)
Newcastle United 0

Albion’s Record against Newcastle United

Overall Home
League 120 42 33 45 196 199 60 27 19 14 112 76
FA Cup 3 2 0 1 7 7 3 2 0 1 7 7
League Cup 2 2 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 2 0 0 2 1 5 1 0 0 1 0 3
Total 127 46 33 48 207 212 64 29 19 16 119 86


Premier League Record
Pld W D L F A Pts
Home 10 3 3 4 11 15 12
Away 10 1 2 7 12 21 5
Total 20 4 5 11 23 36 17


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