Being too good for the Championship but not quite having enough to stay in the Premier League is a feature which always seems to catch up with West Brom. Known as the 'Boing Boing Baggies', it is an apt name for a club forever bouncing between England’s top two divisions.
It may take a few seasons or so but, soon enough, West Brom fall through the trap door or storm the second tier. It’s been that way for two decades. Now, the pendulum is swinging back towards promotion and interestingly their current management team could be swapping places with their former team.
Manager Slaven Bilic coached West Ham between 2015-2017 while his assistant Julian Dicks is an icon there after making more than 260 appearances for the Hammers. However, while the Croatian and his number two have guided West Brom to the top of the Championship, six points clear of third-placed Brentford with 14 games remaining, their former east end club are gearing up for a relegation fight. It’s conceivable the two sides could swap places.
The fact Bilic was dismissed, it could be argued, is perhaps why West Ham find themselves in this predicament of struggling when the aim of this season was the top half of the table as a very, very bare minimum. It was the 51-year-old who was in the dugout when the Hammers left the beloved and iconic Upton Park for the London Stadium.
The years following the move, stability on the pitch was vital but instead, they sacked Bilic just 18 months after they waved goodbye to their former home. Since then, they have recruited title-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini who flattered to deceive with little charisma during his time with the club and have employed David Moyes for the second time in a bid to arrest a halt stemming from a cast of expensively assembled players who just aren’t clicking.
The fact their own player, Grady Diangana, is impressing for the Baggies on loan is another bitter pill to swallow.
These are difficult times for West Ham’s fanbase so it would be galling to swap places with their former management team. However, while Dicks especially is hugely fond of West Ham, he had no qualms about facing them in the FA Cup in January. “I won’t have a problem knocking them out,” he told The Sun in January. They duly did. Now, the focus is ensuring promotion.
Charismatic and forthright, Bilic was a clever appointment by the Baggies after fans had drifted under Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew during that relegation season in 2018. He is focused and leads with energy. He is the perfect fit to make sure West Brom get over the line and get back to the big time come May.
Whether he swaps places with West Ham or not will matter more to those at his former club as they look to recover from years of stagnation following his firing.