Nigel PearsonEmbed from Getty Images
A name often linked with the manager role at Albion is Nigel Pearson.
Pearson gained credit for rejuvenating Watford’s season before being harshly dismissed with two games to go. At the time of his departure, The Hornets were three points clear of relegation and had been six points adrift when he joined the club.
Pearson is also widely considered to have laid the foundations for Leicester City’s title win. He transformed the Foxes from a League One side to coming fourteenth in the Premier League, as well as signing star players such as Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. Former Foxes winger Mahrez claimed that “he (Pearson) deserves credit because he built this team”.
Pearson’s links to the Hawthorns date back more than a decade ago when he joined the club as Bryan Robson’s assistant and played a vital part in the great escape. Albeit only being four games, Pearson has experience of managing Albion as he took charge in the 2006/2007 season when Robson was sacked. He was even offered the job at the time – following three wins and a draw – but declined out of loyalty to the former boss.
A return for Pearson would perhaps also see another former Albion caretaker manager return to the club. Craig Shakespeare made more than 100 appearances for Albion as an attacking midfielder as well as taking charge of The Baggies for one game when Pearson departed, which was a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Shakespeare has since been Pearson’s long-term assistant at Leicester and then replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager before joining Pearson at Vicarage Road too. Shakespeare is currently a coach at Aston Villa but would seem likely he’d make a return if Pearson got the job.
The Albion board may be hesitant to offer Pearson the role due to the style of football he favours. Pearson’s teams usually operate in a 4-4-2 counter-attacking system, with Albion reverting to a more possession-based style since relegation in 2018.
Ralf RangnickEmbed from Getty Images
Appointing Ralf Rangnick would certainly prove to be an ambitious move from the Albion board and is probably an unrealistic suggestion. However, Rangnick’s past involvement with the Albion job sees him sneak onto this list.
Former Albion technical director Dan Ashworth is known to be a big admirer of Rangnick’s. He turned down the Albion job in 2012 after Roy Hodgson left to become England manager because “I knew he (Ashworth) was probably going to join the FA.” Rangnick was also linked with Albion after Steve Clarke was sacked and I personally believe we could be in a different position as a club if he’d have been appointed. Ashworth even held talks with the German regarding the England manager role after Hodgson had departed in 2016.
Rangnick is thought to have played a part in modernising the style of German football with his teams operating in an aggressive style out of possession whilst playing a high tempo passing game when on the ball. Similar to Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhüttl who he appointed when he was director of football at RB Leipzig.
He has experienced success as a manager after leading Stuttgart to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and UEFA Intertoto Cup success in his first management role. Rangnick then guided Hannover 96 to promotion before taking over at Schalke where he qualified for the Champions League as well as reaching the final of the DFB-Pokal. Then came his biggest achievement in football when he took Hoffenheim from the third division of German football to seventh place in Bundesliga in three consecutive seasons. Before joining Leipzig he returned to Schalke and took them to a Champions League semi-final by beating holders Inter Milan, before being knocked out by Man Utd.
Rangnick left Red Bull in the summer after his protracted move to AC Milan fell through, meaning that no compensation would be required if Albion were to hire him. Despite this, it is hard to see Rangnick joining a club like Albion, with him being linked with Roma and another return to Schalke.