Premier League: Newcastle should be tracking events at West Brom

Mike Ashley has been patient with Steve McClaren despite Newcastle being in relegation danger
Mike Ashley has been patient with Steve McClaren despite Newcastle being in relegation danger

Michael Lintorn advises Newcastle to move for Tony Pulis if they give up on Steve McClaren this summer...


"There will always be Premier League teams keen on hiring Pulis because he has never been relegated, yet isn’t a drop-battler either, with his top-flight finishes reading 12th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 13th, 13th and 11th."

Tony Pulis' long-term future at West Brom is in doubt, with some fans frustrated with the style of play and the manager having hinted several times at dissatisfaction with the club's transfer strategy.

When discussing chairman Jeremy Peace's aversion to January signings in November, Pulis said: "Whether I've liked his openness and his honesty is another thing, but he's been very open and very honest with all he's said."

During the window, he said: "We have to find animals a little bit lower than us, or people a little bit lower than us, that we can do business with. It's very difficult and at times not fair on certain football clubs. West Brom will be feeding off clubs a little bit lower than them. That's just the way it is."

Come the close of business, all the Baggies had added were two midfielders on loan - Sandro and Alex Pritchard - potentially increasing Pulis' irritation, while a run of two wins in 11 - and none in four at The Hawthorns - have intensified the ill-feeling in the stands, resulting in those ugly scenes after their FA Cup exit at Reading.

The Welshman has declined to commit beyond the end of the campaign, instead responding to questions on the subject by saying: "Let's sit down in the summer and see where we go from there."

For now, Premier League survival is his priority and - as relegation odds of 20.019/1 emphasise - it is a target that he should hit given the eight-point gap between West Brom and the bottom three with 12 fixtures remaining.

If that happens, a divorce might be in all parties' interests. It would allow the supporters to welcome a boss who they feel more of a bond with - Leicester, West Ham and Watford have shown this term that it is possible to ditch an accomplished manager and still thrive - and Pulis to find a new home where he is fully appreciated by the crowd and backed more effusively in the transfer market.

There will always be Premier League teams keen on hiring the 58-year-old because he has never been relegated, yet isn't a drop-battler either, with his top-flight finishes reading 12th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 13th, 13th and 11th.

Perhaps the next side to take a shine will be Newcastle, who are also expected to stay up but only marginally judging by odds of 2.3611/8 to go down.

Steve McClaren's first season hasn't been a success so far, with the Magpies 18th despite investing over £80 million in new players, so he will be at risk of replacement even if they do escape the relegation zone unless there is a significant improvement by May.

The Toon Army have stylistic concerns as the criticism of Sam Allardyce and at times Alan Pardew demonstrated, though there is probably greater willingness to compromise in favour of having a competitive team now that they are on course for a third bottom-six finish in four years.

From Pulis' perspective, Mike Ashley's newfound enthusiasm for spending since the latest Premier League TV deal and his vow last May to win a trophy before selling up at St James' Park could present him with his best chance yet to claim some silverware and earn that elusive top-half finish.

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