As Mark Jenkins and Luke Dowling working on appointing the next Head Coach, first team coach Jimmy Shan has the unenviable task of preparing what will undoubtedly be a shell-shocked first team squad for another important game in Albion’s season.
At the time of writing, it seems highly unlikely that an appointment will be made in time for the new man to take charge of the team ahead of the visit of Swansea City, and it may even stretch out until after the trip to Brentford next weekend, so it is Shan who will take the reins for at least one game, possibly two.
In the opposite dugout will be former Baggies full back Graham Potter whose Swansea team are struggling in fifteenth place which, when you consider that they finished two places above Albion in the Premier League last season, puts Darren Moore’s achievements into context. Potter, who left the Hawthorns in 2000, a year before Darren Moore was signed, has had to contend with a squad that has been decimated and off-the-field discontent with the recent resignation of Huw Jenkins. It’s been a mixed bag for them throughout the season, although they have produced some decent results in the FA Cup this season winning all three of their ties by three goals – 3-0 away at Aston Villa and 4-1 at home to both Gillingham and Brentford. They now face Manchester City in the quarter final on Saturday evening, and Albion fans will be hoping that the players will have one eye on that match.
One player Albion will not have to worry about is the Swans’ top scorer, Oli McBurnie. The young Scottish striker has scored 16 goals for the Welsh club this season, but missed the defeat at Carrow Road on Friday night through illness, and Potter has indicated that he will not be risked for the trip to the Hawthorns.
Swansea looked fairly solid at Norwich and it took a great finish from Buendía for the league leaders to take all three points, but their only victories in their last seven league games have come at home to Millwall and Bolton and they have lost their last four league games on the road. Nonetheless, I’m not expecting an easy night for an out of form Baggies side.
It will be interesting to see how Shan approaches the game, both in terms of tactics and personnel. Chris Brunt was interviewed on Tuesday and indicated that the players were not always 100% on board with the tactics they have been asked to employ this season, which is perhaps no surprise, but is also a potential indication that there may be a change in approach – would the club captain have been allowed to speak so frankly if things weren’t about to change?
In terms of the personnel, Kieran Gibbs is likely to miss the next two games with his hip injury, which should mean Conor Townsend will play on the left side of defence, be that as a wing back or a traditional full back. It remains to be seen whether Holgate or Hegazi will return – both were missed on Saturday.
With both Sheffield United and Leeds United having recorded victories on Tuesday evening, a top two spot seems even more distant, although play-off contenders, Bristol City, dropped points by repeating Albion’s pivotal result from the weekend by drawing at home to Ipswich Town.
With the Baggies still looking for their first home league win of 2019, three points would be very welcome and would help to keep them solidly in the play-off places.
The club will remain in limbo, however, until a decision is made on the next head coach, but maybe there will be an indication against Swansea as to whether the decision to sack Moore will have a positive impact on the field.
In a move that is a mark of the man, Darren Moore contacted Baggie Bird, aka Dave Challoner, to ask him to the get the message out to the fans to get behind Jimmy Shan while he is in charge – Baggies fans, take note.
Wednesday evening’s meeting between West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City will be the 43rd between the clubs, and the 40th in the league. This is the nineteenth season in which the two clubs have been in the same division, with the two additional league meetings being in the 1992/93 season when the clubs met in the Division Two play-off semi-final.
That, of course, brings back memories of an amazing night at the Hawthorns on 19th May 1993 when the Baggies overturned a 2-1 deficit from the first leg to win 2-0 thanks to goals from Andy Hunt and Ian Hamilton to progress through to the final at Wembley. Those that were there will remember the amazing noise that was generated by the Hawthorns faithful that evening and, for me, it is certainly the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at the Shrine.
That was a under the lights on a Wednesday evening and was the second of six floodlit Wednesday evening meetings between the clubs at the Hawthorns, all of which have been won by Albion. The most recent of those was in December 2016 when a Salomón Rondón headed hat-trick saw the Baggies win 3-1.
Swansea Town, as the club were known until 1969, did earn a 0-0 draw at the Hawthorns on a Wednesday in April 1939, but there were no floodlights in those days!
The Baggies’ biggest win over Swansea was a decade earlier when four goals from Tommy Glidden and further strikes from Joe Carter and Frank Cresswell saw Albion record a 6-2 victory at the Hawthorns in October 1929.
The first meeting between the clubs after their name change was in 1981 in the Swans’ first ever season in the top flight. They had opened their campaign with a 5-1 home win over Leeds and followed it up with a 2-1 win at Brighton before travelling to the Hawthorns top of the early Division One table. Cyrille Regis scored a hat-trick that day with new signing, Steve Mackenzie, also finding the net as the new boys were dispatched 4-1, although Swansea’s early promise was well founded as they finished the season in 6th place, some eleven places higher than the Baggies.
The Swans have recorded just four victories at the Shrine, with three of them coming in a four year period from 2009. Roberto di Matteo’s team lost 1-0 in October 2009 while the first Premier League meeting at the Hawthorns in February 2012 saw the then future Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, get the better of the former Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgson. Three goals in five minutes early in the second half saw the visitors earn a 2-1 victory – Marc-Antoine Fortuné had given Albion the lead but Swansea soon turned it around with goals from Gylfi Sigurðsson and Danny Graham.
The following season, both clubs had new managers as Steve Clarke took on Michael Laudrup at the Hawthorns in September 2013. Swansea recorded their only victory at Albion by more than one goal as Ben Davies and Pablo Hernández, the man who scored the opener at Elland Road last week, found the net to record a 2-0 win.
I’ve mentioned the three Albion players who have scored a hat-trick in this fixture, Glidden, Regis and Rondón, and just one Swansea player has managed it, at the Hawthorns in January 1992. Jason Roberts had scored a brace to give Albion a 2-0 lead at the break but Steve Thornber came off the bench to score a treble in the last eleven minutes to steal the points.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
28 Nov 2018 – League Championship
Swansea City 1 (McBurnie)
West Brom 2 (Dawson, Hegazi)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
7 Apr 2018 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Rodriguez)
Swansea City 1 (Abraham)
Last win at the Hawthorns
14 Dec 2016 – Premier League
West Brom 3 (Rondón (3))
Swansea City 1 (Routledge)
Albion’s Record against Swansea City