West Brom Opinion: Baggies linked with Jack Ross- A calculated risk?
The Baggies are currently managed by James Shan following the dismissal of Darren Moore but they have been unable to regain consistency under their interim manager. West Brom have lost some pretty straightforward fixtures against the likes of Millwall and Bristol City in recent weeks and it looks highly unlikely that Shan is going to be at the helm of affairs beyond the current season.
Preston North End’s Alex Neil was one of the front-runners for the permanent job but the Scotsman has poured cold water on those speculations by signing a new three-year deal at his current club. (H/t BBC)
Interestingly, West Brom have set their sights on another Scotsman in the form of Jack Ross to take the club forward. The 42-year-old took charge at Sunderland last summer and has managed to steady the ship at the Stadium of Lights following back-to-back relegations.
The Black Cats currently find themselves just one point adrift of Barnsley for the second automatic promotion place in League One and there is every chance that Ross might be in the Championship next season.
It would be fair to say that Ross has emerged as the savior for Sunderland, taking charge at a time when the Black Cats had hit an all-time low in their history and transforming their fortunes.
He has rekindled hope at the club that was in a downward spiral just a season back and the Scotsman has proven that he is a manager with plenty of acumen and character who has all the parts to make it to the highest level.
While the West Brom fans might be divided in their opinion on hearing about Ross, a move to the Hawthorns would be a massive leap in the 42-year-old’s managerial career.
Ross had a mediocre playing career in Scotland but he rose to prominence as a manager at St.Mirren, guiding the club to a promotion-winning campaign in the Scottish Premiership in the 2017-18 season, which was considered by many to be a massive achievement.
Ross’s feat of charisma and intelligence earned him the 2017-18 PFA Scotland Manager of the Year award.
Well, Ross has excelled in the Scottish Championship and in the League One in England, but the main question is- Has he proven himself enough to take charge of a club that is challenging for promotion to the Premier League?
The gap between League One and Championship is quite big both in terms of quality and intensity and given that West Brom would eventually aim to challenge for promotion to the Premier League and survive in the top flight, looking at Ross as a long-term solution might be a risky proposition.
However, it would be unfair to write him off completely as there have been instances of managers who have made the step up from the League One to the Championship and eventually to the Premier League, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe being amongst those to have climbed up the pyramid in recent times.
Ross has shown plenty of promise very early in his managerial career and he certainly deserves a chance to prove himself at the highest level. Moreover, he knows how to get the best out of his players and his man management skills are also upto the mark.
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To conclude, it might be a bit of a gamble for West Brom to appoint Ross as the manager but it could bring with it a lot of rewards as well, considering that the Scotsman has done his reputation no harm at Sunderland.
Neil Taylor to start at left-back? – Predicted 4-1-4-1 Aston Villa XI to face Millwall
Aston Villa vs Millwall Predictions: Aston Villa Starting XI
Aston Villa’s form in the last couple of months can be described as nothing short of awe-inspiring as they have gone from being a lowly mid-table club to genuine contenders for promotion in the 2nd half of the Championship season.
Currently on a 9-game winning streak, it certainly hasn’t looked like Villa’s surge towards Premier League football is going to end anytime soon. With players like Tammy Abraham and Jack Grealish in the form of their life, facing Villa will be tricky prospect for any side.
The biggest area of concern for Aston Villa fans at the moment in time was the shoulder injury sustained by Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham in their 2-0 away win against Bolton Wanderers last time out.
His knock could keep him out for a few games and that could have serious repercussions on their promotion hopes.
Orphan Nyland and Thomas Carroll are both out for the season while both Tommy Elphick and James Chester are back in training but probably not ready in time for this tie. Jonathan Kodjia is expected to return after his rib injury as well.
Predicted Aston Villa XI
Manager: Dean Smith
GK – Jed Steer
The former Norwich City has stepped in well at the back for Villa and he is expected to keep his place.
RB – Ahmed ElMohamady
The Egyptian full-back has been in decent form for the Villans and his attacking capabilities have come to the fore.
CB – Axel Tuanzebe
The Manchester United loanee picked up a slight knock on Friday but should be fit enough to start again on Monday.
CB – Tyrone Mings
Signing this English giant on loan from Bournemouth was a smart move by Dean Smith as he has come quite good.
LB – Neil Taylor
In the absence of Hause, the 30-year-old Neil Taylor is perfectly capable of filling in at the left-back role.
CDM – Glenn Whelan
Despite his ripe age, the sheer experience and composure that Whelan brings to this Villa side is unparalleled.
RM – Albert Adomah
Adomah’s pacy movements down the left right flank have been crucial for Dean Smith’s side this season.
CM – John McGinn
The Scottish international, formerly of Hibernian, has displayed some decent form over the course of the campaign.
CM – Jack Grealish
One of the most highly-rated players in the league, Grealish has a very important part to play in Tammy’s absence.
LW – Anwar El Ghazi
This Dutch professional’s mazy runs down the left flank have been one of Villa’s main sources of attacking firepower.
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ST – Johnathan Kodjia
Ivorian international Kodjia’s return form injury will see him return to the starting XI in place of Tammy Abraham.
Gary Madine to continue up top? – Predicted 3-4-1-2 Sheffield United XI to face Hull City
Hull City vs Sheffield United Predictions: Sheffield United Starting XI
Sheffield United were comfortable 2-0 winners against Nottingham Forest on Friday night as the Blades were able to cruise through the challenge. Goals from Enda Stevens and Mark Duffy were enough to give Chris Wilder’s men a crucial win as Leeds United dropped more points.
With the opportunity to move into 2nd place, the Blades showed their quality in the encounter as the dispatched a 10-man Forest side with ease. They must now travel to Hull City as we head into the final weeks of the Championship campaign.
Centre-half John Egan has now served his 1-match suspension for the red card he received against Millwall. His return will be crucial to Chris Wilder’s side as they are currently dealing with the injury troubles being face by their star defender Chris Basham.
Jake Wright has returned to full training but his involvement from the start will be doubt when they travel to Hull. Billy Sharp’s hamstring problem has been a cause for real concern around Sheffield United and he is expected to miss this tie as well.
Predicted Sheffield United XI
Manager: Chris Wilder
GK – Dean Henderson
The Manchester United loanee has put in some decent displays between the sticks for the Blades this season.
CB – Martin Cranie
The knock picked by Chris Basham is a blessing is disguise for Cranie who has been granted a first-team opportunity.
CB – John Egan
The defender has now served the 1-match ban he picked up a couple of games ago and is expected to start.
CB – Jack O’Connell
The former Blackburn Rovers man has done well in the heart of defence for the Blades and should keep his place.
RWB – George Baldock
The English right-back has been one of their most potent attacking outlets and he is expected to keep his place in the side.
CM – Oliver Norwood
The former Manchester United man is 27 now but has been a key part of the Blades’ midfield.
CM – John Fleck
The Scottish midfielder is responsible for keeping the ball moving the middle of the park and should start on Monday.
LWB – Enda Stevens
The Irishman scored one of the Blades’ goals against Nottingham Forest and did well throughout the night.
CAM – Mark Duffy
It was his goal which made that the Blades collected all 3 points and kept the pressure up on Leeds United.
RF – Gary Madine
The injury to Billy Sharp has resulted in sustained regular football for Gary Madine, who is expected to start again.
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LF – David McGoldrick
The Irishman hasn’t covered himself in glory over the season but will be looking to prove himself in Sharp’s absence.
Tyler Roberts to receive a start? – Predicted 4-1-4-1 Leeds United XI to face Brentford
Brentford vs Leeds United Predictions: Leeds United Starting XI
Leeds United must put things back to normal when they travel to face a fairly dangerous Brentford side. The Whites’ last fixture saw them squander 3 points against 10-man Wigan Athletic despite dominating the game from the opening minutes.
They had 36 shots and 10 of them on target compared to Wigan’s 8 and 2 on target. They recorded more than 75% possession on the night and played the fixture against a heavily weakened side right from the 14th minute of the game when Cedric Kipre was sent off.
There are a few injury concerns for Marcelo Bielsa to worry about at this crucial juncture in Leeds United’s season. Liam Cooper’s muscle problem is likely to keep him out of the Whites’ back-line against Brentford and although the range of his return is unknown, the Leeds faithful will be hoping to see him back soon.
Barry Douglas’ MCL injury is set to keep him out for quite a while with the club setting an expected return date of July 2019. Goalkeeper Jamal Blackman is also sidelined for the remainder of the campaign having picked up a shin problem earlier this term.
Predicted Leeds United XI
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
GK – Kiko Casilla
Was largely untroubled against Wigan and will have to be at his best against a strong Brentford front-line.
RB – Luke Ayling
The full-back has certainly been criticised quite a bit this season but some of his displays have been inspiring.
CB – Pontus Jansson
The Swedish giant didn’t do much to try and stop the two Wigan goals last week and he will be looking to make amends.
CB – Gaetano Berardi
The Swiss centre-half has come into the side in the absence of Liam Cooper and is expected to continue there.
LB – Ezgjan Alioski
The Macedonian winger has been converted into a full-back by Leeds and has been one of their better players.
CDM – Kalvin Phillips
The 23-year-old midfield is very highly rated and his performance will be crucial to Leeds getting all 3 points.
RM – Pablo Hernandez
The veteran of the English game has been showing his worth despite his age in a Leeds shirt this season.
CM – Tyler Roberts
The youngster has a large amount of potential and a number of continuous games will be excellent for him.
CM – Mateusz Klich
Possibly their most creative midfield outlet, Klich will have to be at his free-flowing best against Brentford.
RM – Jack Harrison
The Manchester City loanee has shown himself in a good light earlier in the season but does need to improve.
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ST – Kemar Roofe
Despite Patrick Bamford getting the goal last week, expect Roofe to start the game on Monday as Leeds look to bounce back.
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