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Darren Moore’s West Brom future: Why would he not get the job?
Last Updated: 08/05/18 5:00pm
Darren Moore is the Premier League manager of the month having turned things around at West Brom, but it is still unclear whether he will be given the job next season. With the help of those who know Moore well, Adam Bate looks at why this is a test case for the prospects of BAME coaches.
It would be a bit of a stretch to claim that the appointment of Darren Moore as West Brom's caretaker manager was an opportunity for him. The team were seven points adrift of Stoke let alone safety. This never looked like being a chance to impress. The job was just to get the Baggies through to the end of the season without too much more embarrassment.
Instead, Moore has been a revelation.
With three wins and two draws from his five games in charge, he has already picked up more points than his predecessor Alan Pardew. In fact, Moore has overseen as many victories in the last four matches as the team had managed in the previous 42. West Brom are top of the Premier League form table. No club is on a longer unbeaten run.
The fixtures were far from kind. But Moore's side beat Rafa Benitez's Newcastle and he got the better of another Champions League winning coach when he went to Old Trafford and took three points off Jose Mourinho on his own patch - something Arsene Wenger never did manage. Saturday's 1-0 win over Tottenham added Mauricio Pochettino to the list.
Everyone agrees that the club is galvanised. "It obviously helps when you go out on the pitch knowing what you're doing," says James McClean. Goalkeeper Ben Foster puts it down to Moore bringing "a lot more unity back" to the team. Others such as Jay Rodriguez and Chris Brunt paint a picture of hard work on the training ground being rewarded.
But still there are whispers. Lingering doubts that the man affectionately known as Big Dave by the club's supporters has the ideas that can take West Brom forwards in the long term. One television pundit even went as far as to suggest that giving the job to Moore would represent "a risk" by the club's owners. But if Moore is a risk then who isn't a risk?
"This is a key decision for West Bromwich Albion," the club's former striker Kevin Campbell tells Sky Sports. "Let's look at the straight-up facts. The fact of the matter is that if he was doing this job anywhere and he was a white manager then he would be getting the job. I don't know why but for some reason the black managers don't get the job so easily.
"I am not 100 per cent convinced they are going to give it to him because there are new owners and they might have their eye on somebody else who is more fashionable. But look at his resume. He has been at that club for a long time and he knows the fabric. The players respond to him and he has got results. What more boxes do you need ticking?"
It is a fair question. Moore might be a folk hero at the Hawthorns but he is not some cheerleader on the touchline. This is a man who completed his UEFA Pro Licence while still playing professionally back in 2012, which is more than the current England boss Gareth Southgate had done before getting his first opportunity in management. Moore is qualified.
Linvoy Primus has followed his progress for years. Team-mates at Portsmouth, they founded the charity Faith and Football together. He has seen up close just how much work has gone into becoming an overnight sensation. "The results are a surprise, of course they are, but it is no surprise that he has done the job well," Primus tells Sky Sports.
"This is what he has wanted to do since before he retired. He was preparing for this when he used to coach a local youth team in our Portsmouth days. It was all part of the learning process. If people knew the work that he has done leading up to this, they would know that he has left no stone unturned to ensure he is qualified enough and experienced enough.
"He has worked tirelessly with the younger age groups before getting the opportunity to take the first team. He has done it under the radar and he has done it well. It has been a great apprenticeship. He has seen lots of sides to it and worked with some experienced people. We are seeing the fruits of that now so I am really pleased for him."
Campbell recalls that diligence too. The pair were part of West Brom's great escape of 2005 and the striker remembers their chats well. "He would pick my brains about stuff," he explains. "He was very team oriented. We would stay behind and have discussions about the team dynamic. He has always been interested in that and it's a sign of his intelligence."
Increasingly, football is about man-management. Perhaps there was a time in the dim and distant past when the authoritarian coach could demand that his tactical plans be executed and see them followed without question. The modern player has money and alternatives. The key is to engage them and Moore has shown that he can do that as well as anyone.
"It is about dealing with people," says Primus. "That's the name of the game. Getting your message across and getting what you want. He can do that. He does not even have to try to be the leader, it just happens. People are drawn to him and you can see how that has carried over into what we have seen happen at West Brom so far.
"I watched the game against Manchester United and inside the first 15 minutes there were a couple of players who just threw themselves at the ball. I said to my son, these guys are playing for Darren. There was something different. You can just tell when someone is giving that something extra and these lads were doing it. It has a ripple effect."
Campbell spotted that too and regards it as a sign that Moore has already taken the key step from coaching to management. "Sometimes coaches do not get the respect that managers get but the players are responding to him," he says. "They are running through brick walls for him and when you see players doing that, you have got a manager."
All that remains is to see whether West Brom will give Moore the chance to build on the good work that he has already done. This is where it gets tricky. "I believe he can do that job and he can do it well," adds Campbell. "But will he get the chance? I would have liked to think they would have come out and made a statement already saying that he has got it."
Primus, who is still in regular touch with Moore and can vouch for the fact that his friend is revelling in the role, sees it the same way. "It's not a case of giving him the job because it will get the fans onside, it is a case of giving him the job because he is good at what he is doing," he explains. "Nobody can argue that he has not been good so far.
"If there was an audition for the role then Darren has ticked the boxes and if there was a general election to vote him in then I am sure everybody around would say he deserves that opportunity. So it would be a bit of a surprise if he did not get it. Whatever decision the West Brom owners make, the reasons for that decision will need to be right."
The dearth of BAME coaches has long been a concern but the example of Moore feels like a watershed moment. One of the arguments against the Rooney Rule has always been that if a BAME coach was good enough then they would get their opportunity. Well, Moore has shown that he is good enough. Many will be waiting to see if the opportunity is forthcoming.