“It’s a right kick in the whatsits.”
There has been something wonderfully nostalgic about this short West Brom caretaker reign of Gary Megson, managing in the Premier League for the first time in almost eight years. It has been a convincing Gary Megson tribute act with painstaking attention to detail; his Bolton spell also ended with a 2-0 lead becoming a 2-2 draw. It had even been preceded by a 1-0 away lead becoming a 1-1 draw. Eight years on, little has changed, including Megson’s chances of getting another job in top-flight football.
No wonder Newcastle’s late revival gave him such a dull ache in his nether regions. Had West Brom held on against Newcastle, Megson would have once again been the man who fixed the Baggies, delivering a first Premier League win since August; it would have been too late to stop the smug Alan Pardew revival train but the original Ginger Mourinho would have reminded a dozen football chairman of his existence. Not that they should need reminding, according to the man himself.
“It shouldn’t be on the last eight days,” he said on Tuesday night. “I’ve had two promotions to the Premier League. They shouldn’t need reminding, they should know.”
The problem is that the last of those two promotions – which both came with West Brom – is now over 13 years ago. To give you an idea of how much football has since moved on, Megson’s Baggies finished second to a Norwich side managed by Nigel Worthington, who was last seen resigning from League Two York over three years ago. Nobody in the top four flights of football is likely to give the Northern Irishman another chance any time soon – once you are seen as yesterday’s man, do not expect a phone call today or tomorrow. Just ask Alan Curbishley. Megson’s decision to assist Tony Pulis this season has at least given him a shop window, but his display looks like something from a different era.
“Take a team that’s come down from the Premier League and get it straight back automatically – not ******* about in the play-offs? I’ve done that,” said Megson in August. “Keeping a team that was on its **** in the Premier League? I’ve done that.”
He sounds dated. He sounds angry. He sounds bitter. He sounds like the man about whom Darren Huckerby once said: “When Megson tried to sign me I told him I didn’t like the way he coached, I didn’t like the way he shouted at his players and didn’t like how he treated seasoned professionals like 15-year-olds.” If that approach was going out of fashion in 2003, it is rightly consigned to history in 2017. Let us not forget that Megson had been coaching those West Brom players who have looked disaffected and demotivated all season.
“Gary leaves with our gratitude for a sterling job completed in difficult circumstances,” said chairman John Williams in the statement announcing the appointment of Pardew. Will it be the last we see of Gary? Had West Brom won on Tuesday night, the answer may have been rather different.