Phelan and Appleton head shortlist for manager's job at West Brom
Cardiff City 1 West Brom 0
West Bromwich Albion will begin their search for a new head coach this week, with Mike Phelan and Michael Appleton expected to figure prominently on their shortlist.
Albion dismissed Steve Clarke shortly after their fourth successive defeat at Cardiff City on Saturday, placing him on gardening leave until the end of May, after growing increasingly concerned with the club's results since the end of last year.
Clarke, who has expressed "deep regret" at his sacking, only managed nine wins from the last 41 Premier League games, while his failure to mount a revival despite significant backing in the summer transfer window persuaded West Bromwich chairman Jeremy Peace to end his tenure after nearly 20 months.
He was given the news by Peace and Richard Garlick, the sporting and technical director, at the club's training ground when the team coach returned from South Wales.
Peace will now target a coach to work within the existing structure at the Hawthorns and is reluctant to pay compensation, which leaves moves for Cardiff's Malky Mackay and Burnley's Sean Dyche unlikely.
Phelan, previously No 2 to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, will be considered while there is also support for Appleton, the former first-team coach and assistant to Roy Hodgson.
Albion insist they have nobody lined up at this stage and will compile a shortlist this week, with joint assistant boss Keith Downing likely to take charge of the home game with Hull City on Saturday.
Clarke defended himself in a statement.
"I believe I have unfinished business at West Bromwich Albion so it is with deep regret that I was relieved of duties as head coach," he said.
"I was extremely proud to have secured the club's highest ever finish in the Premier League... by finishing eighth in 2012-13.
"Going into this season expectations were high, perhaps unrealistically so, but with it still being only our fourth consecutive season in the top flight, our primary objective had to be establishing our status in the Premier League. I was, and remain, convinced that we were well placed to achieve this aim."
Albion have maintained it was not a kneejerk decision and have been frustrated with results for some time -- despite forking out more than £11m on strikers Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe in the summer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)