Yesterday it was announced that Gary Megson has returned to the Hawthorns after a 13 year absence, albeit in the reduced capacity of assistant manager.
Megson has already embossed his name into Albion folk law having transformed the club from a side flirting with relegation from what is now the Championship to the promised land of the Premier League within two years of arriving, while simultaneously snatching automatic promotion from bitter rivals Wolves in the process.
The question that must be on the lips of most Baggies fans is “why now?” David Kemp, Tony Pulis’ long term right hand man announced that he would be retiring this year leaving the door open for Megson to step in. The decision may on the face of things seem strange; Megson has been out of the game for almost 5 years, however, the appointment can only be good news for the club.
The style of play adopted by the club today mirrors the ruthlessly defensive brand that Megson imposed during his tenure. “1-0 to the Baggies” was a common scoreline, especially when on the promotion trail. Megson and Pulis share the approach that if you don’t concede, the worst that you come away with is a point. It’s simple, invariably gritty, but thoroughly effective. They both have an old school approach to how a football player should behave which will allow Pulis to share some of the more pastoral elements of management with him.
This is not the first time that the pair have worked together, they were briefly on the same touchline at Stoke which will have given both the chance to see how the other works. The fact they want to join forces again clearly shows a mutual respect between them.
Megson is still held in high regard among certain sections of the Albion faithful, he knows what the club is about and clearly has the desire to get back into football and indeed do so at B71. Had Megson not fallen out with former chairman Jeremy Peace he would almost certainly have kept the helm for another couple of seasons. In an interview on the clubs website, Megson expressed his admiration for the club saying “I loved my time here although it’s a long time ago now […] It’s a terrific club with terrific support.”
The challenge for Megson will be to avoid slipping into old habits and taking liberties, however with Tony Pulis in charge there will be little doubt from the off who is boss.
Written by George Bates.