Why West Brom are even closer to managerial appointment of Slaven Bilic
West Bromwich Albion ‘s long search for a manager is almost over with the club having agreed a contract in principle with Slaven Bilic.
The Baggies have been in the hunt for a head coach since Darren Moore was sacked in March.
First-team coach Jimmy Shan stepped up to lead the team as caretaker manager for the remainder of the season, but was not considered for the position long-term.
Technical director Luke Dowling and chief executive Mark Jenkins have spoken to a number of candidates, including ex-Brighton boss Chris Hughton and former Wolfsburg chief Bruno Labbadia.
Highly-rated Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley, Sheffield United supremo Chris Wilder and Charlton boss Lee Bowyer were also sounded out.
But Bilic, who enjoyed great success with the Croatian national team and West Ham, emerged as the top choice after impressing Dowling and Jenkins over two rounds of talks.
The 50-year-old Croatian, most recently in employment with Saudi side Al-Ittihad, and members of the Baggies board have spent the last few days negotiating over the contract.
Birmingham Live understands there have been no snags regarding personal terms or budget assurances and that a deal has been brokered in principle. An announcement is expected soon, potentially in the next 48 hours.
It’s thought Bilic will bring two coaches with him to assist in first-team affairs.
One of his first jobs will be to scrutinise, in consultation with Dowling and head of recruitment Ian Pearce, the playing staff and areas in need of strengthening.
The former Besiktas boss faces a complete overhaul of the squad with a high turnover of players expected after the Baggies narrowly missed out on promotion in the play-offs.
He might be minded to reverse the club’s decision to release out-of-contract players James Morrison, Gareth Barry, Boaz Myhill, Wes Hoolahan and Tyrone Mears by offering new terms.
If there is a rethink, Morrison and Barry are the two most likely beneficiaries given the extent of their involvement last season. The veteran midfielders made 50 first-team appearances between them.
Rekeem Harper has been offered a new deal, with his contract up at the end of the month, but the 19-year-old midfielder is yet to sign.
Harper is likely to seek assurances over playing time next season before making his next move.
The futures of Salomon Rondon, Craig Dawson, Matt Phillips, Allan Nyom, Hal Robson-Kanu and Jonathan Bond will also crop up in conversation. All six are out of contract next summer.
Rondon is destined for the exit with several top-flight clubs, including Newcastle – where he thrived on loan last season – Wolves, West Ham and Everton, interested in activating his £16.5 million release clause.
The new manager will almost certainly want Dawson and Phillips at his disposal, but might have to cash in if the right offers are made.
The Baggies will likely cut their losses on Nyom, a £3 million signing from Watford in August 2016 who spent last season on loan at Leganes in La Liga.
Having joined as a free agent, and having only been a peripheral figure for much of his three years at the club, Albion might be prepared to let Robson-Kanu’s contract run down.
Likewise Bond who, despite excelling in cup competition, has failed to oust Sam Johnstone as the club’s undisputed number one in goal.
Bilic will want to have a handle on the make-up of his squad before the vast majority of players return for the start of pre-season testing and training on Monday, June 24.