Good blog, worth a read. http://blogs.birminghammail.net/westbromwichalbion/
PERCEPTION and image isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Example: Take a football manager who many fans aren't sure about?
Sounds like Roy Hodgson and England, no?
Try one a little closer to home.
Steve Clarke for West Bromwich Albion.
When the Birmingham Mail broke this news, first came the surprise and then followed an outpouring of all sorts.
Some of it positive, a lot of it mixed, much of it despondent, disappointed and even angry.
He should be appointed today.
Whether Clarke was first choice or not is irrelevant.
The process of recruitment raised more questions than it answered. At times the perception was of an internal trawl through the League Managers Association's website of out-of-work bosses. So many people spoken to. Foreign coaches brought in. Albion's due diligence knows no bounds and you have to admire them for not going for the obvious option.
The lack of open dialogue or statements was frustrating for fans. German reports claiming Ralf Rangnick was the new boss didn't help. Yet Jeremy Peace is no Dave Whelan and Dan Ashworth is definitely no Jez Moxey.
The 'process' seemed unnecessarily clumsy and drawn-out.
And clearly Albion are taking a risk when perhaps there is no demand or need for it.
But is it any more of a risk than the alternatives? Maybe. But each appointment carries some doubt.
How many people wanted Gary Megson, Tony Mowbray or Roberto Di Matteo?
This appointment could be a Jeremy Peace masterstroke just as easily as it could define the chairman's next two years or so if it goes horribly wrong.
But isn't that usually the case? The safe pair of hands which arrived in the form of Roy Hodgson last February were not available this time. A lot of it was damaged goods.
Claudio Ranieri? He's been collecting P45s for fun during the last few years.
Ralf Rangnick, a German with a great pedigree. He might have become Albion's Arsene Wenger. Or maybe their Christian Gross.
Ultimately both might have been very successful too. We shall never know. Chris Hughton is perhaps the one which might hurt them. Albion's pursuit of him seemed dog-eared.
Others were unsuitable, out-of-reach or probably not too different to those already mentioned. And, again, only a select number of people within Albion's corridors of power got to know the quirks, mannerisms, qualities and deficiencies of each candidate.
It's easy to be seduced by high-profile names, foreign tongues and smooth operators. Sometimes a little more substance is needed.
I have no clues as to how Steve Clarke will set his teams up. Pre-season will be intriguing.
Clarke is happy to indulge innovation.
He's been No2 alongside the free-flowing Ruud Gullit, the methodical Jose Mourinho, purist Gianfranco Zola and helped shape Kenny Dalglish's defence. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
What of Steve Clarke the manager? Therein lies another issue.
He won't be a manager, but the head coach. Many of those 'managerial' responsibilities are handed over to Dan Ashworth.
It's a hybrid role - which served Hodgson and Robbie Di Matteo effectively - but the distinction between the two is valid and much of Clarke's previous experience is geared towards this aspect of the position. A shouter, a motivator who is averse to training would have been totally unsuitable. It's designed more with coaching in mind.
That said, certain aspects of this role, not least man-management of players and being their 'gaffer', will be new to him. These will test him. He doesn't have long to learn.
The other argument being used is that Clarke doesn't possess the profile to attract players. This is a misnomer. The notion that he (or any other boss for that matter) would lack a pedigree to sell the club to players is pure urban mythology. Footballers are primarily attracted to clubs who offer the best financial packages and chances for silverware. Players who suggest otherwise are, from experience, offering mere lip service. Few managers these days - apart from those at the very tip of the football pyramid - have the gravitas or power to offer this mystical pull towards their club.
Zola, who served for some of Italy's and England's best coaches as a player before becoming a boss himself, described Clarke's innovative training sessions as "brilliant".
Ex-Chelsea player Aleksey Smertin, a footballer of 16 years, once said: "Clarke was very approachable and could talk to the players at the same level. You could be honest with him. He was a funny guy as well. I don't know too many players who didn't like him."
And what of the Special One?
Mourinho said: "If he had the chance to manage a club, even a big club like Chelsea, he would be ready for that. He is that good. He is an intelligent guy and always looking to improve. He is very open to co-operation and learning. He has a good relationship with the players, knows how to handle them. I think he is much, much better than many managers who are in charge of teams at the moment."
We shall see.
Albion's finishing point of 10th will inevitably be an expectation Clarke has to wrestle with. Hodgson extracted a lot from his players.
It would need a staggering level of good fortune and financial investment to better that.
Merely maintaining Premier League respectability is crucial.
Away from the hyperbole, Albion have their part to play.
Roy Hodgson warned that greater investment was needed to give Albion any chance of being more than just a mid-table side.
Just because he's gone, Hodgson's words shouldn't fall on deaf ears just because a new man is in charge.
Anyway, Steve, enjoy...Chris Lepkowski