Kevin Phillips concerned by Xu Ke search for new West Brom manager
We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Kevin Phillips is worried by the direction West Brom’s search for a new manager after Luke Dowling quit his role as sporting and technical director at The Hawthorns.
Albion have seen attempts to hire Chris Wilder and David Wagner reach dead-ends with the club yet to find a replacement for Sam Allardyce, who announced he was leaving the Baggies almost a month ago.
Since Dowling has gone, chief executive Xu ‘Ken’ Ke has taken over the hunt for Big Sam’s successor with The Athletic reporting the Chinese businessman has taken a liking to Barnsley’s Valerien Ismael and talks are underway to hire the Frenchman.
Ex-West Brom forward Phillips is scared that Ken’s lack of knowledge in the English football in comparison to Dowling could be an issue.
Speaking to West Brom News, Phillips said: “It definitely worries me.
“If you’re a West Brom supporter and got someone who doesn’t know a lot about English football then it is a worry on who he’s going to turn to for advice when he’s making enquiries about managers.
“Luke Dowling knows football inside out so it is concerning.
“It’s also concerning they still haven’t appointed someone when in another two weeks, players will probably be reporting back for preseason.
“You want someone to get in place, get used to the surroundings.”
Ismael defied the odds at Barnsley last season and despite widespread predictions they would be in a relegation battle, he took the Tykes to the Championship playoffs.
He did so with a pragmatic style of play that relied on being quite direct when attacking but The Athletic reports that Ken believes Albion fans will be “excited” by the Frenchman’s intensity.
Ismael has managed Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga before but didn’t last long and was sacked just a few months into his tenure with the club struggling to stay clear of the relegation zone.
He’s also managed Nuremberg, Greek outfit Apollon Smyrnis and Austrian side LASK, who he led to the Champions League knock-out stages before they won a Europa League group containing Sporting CP, PSV and Rosenborg.
It’s clear that Ismael is improving as a manager and has learned from past mistakes.
If he’s hired by the Albion, let’s see what he can do.
In other West Brom news, there’s been an update on speculation linking Tony Pulis with a shock return.