West Bromwich Albion have sacked manager Steve Clarke and placed him on gardening leave, the English Premier League club announced last night.
The club revealed only late last month that they planned to hold contract talks in the new year with the Scot, who guided West Brom to an eighth-place finish last season. However, yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Cardiff City was the Baggies’ fourth in a row, leaving them 16th.
The club said their decision to dispense with Clarke, was the unanimous decision of the board, with West Brom just two points and two places above the relegation zone. Assistant manager Kevin Keen has also been placed on gardening leave.
The club have won only seven of their 34 Premier League games during the calendar year – a 20 per cent win percentage yielding a total of only 31 points.
Joint assistant head coach Keith Downing will assume control of first-team affairs while the club search for Clarke’s successor.
Richard Garlick, the club’s sporting and technical director, said in the statement: “We have reluctantly come to the decision to relieve Steve of his duties after very careful consideration.
“It has been well documented that we have not had the rub of the green in certain games this season but that does not cloud the generally disappointing points return during this calendar year, culminating in today’s fourth-successive defeat at Cardiff.
“This club’s track record proves we do not take such decisions lightly, having only enforced a change in this position three times in approximately 14 years.
“But, with key games coming thick and fast, we felt it was important we acted now to give the club the best possible chance of a successful outcome this season.
“Our player wage bill is the highest in the club’s history and we feel we have built a squad capable of being very competitive in the Premier League.
“We now begin the search to find a new head coach who will work within our existing structure, which has been in place for the past six years.”
He added: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Steve and Kevin for their efforts over the past 18 months. We wish them and their families well for the future.”
Clarke, who took over at the Hawthorns in June 2012, was out of contract at the end of the season.
The 50-year-old replaced Roy Hodgson, who was appointed England manager, at the Black Country club in what was his first managerial role having previously been assistant at Chelsea, West Ham United and Liverpool, working alongside managers such as Jose Mourinho, Ruud Gullit, Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Dalglish.
Clarke began his playing career with St Mirren then spent 11 years at Chelsea, where he won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the European Cup-Winners’ Cup.
He is the fourth English Premier League manager to lose his job this season and William Hill last night made former West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo the even money favourite to take over as the next permanent manager at the Hawthorns.