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Championship - Football: Steve Bruce and Baggies end sorry partnership

Steve Bruce has become the latest Championship manager to lose his job following West Brom's goalless draw at Luton which kept them in the bottom three.

It has been a dreadful season for the Baggies so far and the home stalemate, a result that saw fans continue to turn against Bruce, proved to be the final straw.

Bruce has lasted just eight months in the hot-seat and now Albion will try and appoint a worthy successor in order to salvage something from what could be a very bleak season.

West Brom are 22nd in the table, two points off safety, and have managed only one win from 13 matches.

They are priced at 20/1 for a shock relegation to the third tier while optimists can still back them to reach the top six at 9/4.

Nightmare season for Baggies

When Bruce was appointed to replace Valerien Ismael in February, it was a decision that failed to capture the imagination of fans. However, he did walk in with a proven track record of getting teams up into the top-flight -Birmingham and Hull.

Bruce was supposed to come in and galvanise an underperforming group of players, put his arm around their shoulders, and give them the confidence to attack the play-offs.

However, Bruce failed to win any of his first five matches and, although their form picked up by the season's end, they had too much work to do to get into the play-off picture.

He made some eye-catching signings in the summer which suggested there was a burning ambition to get back into the Premier League. John Swift and Jed Wallace arrived on free transfers from Reading and Millwall respectively and have both, over the years, been creative goalscoring midfielders at this level.

There wasn't too much in terms of cash signings though and the fact they were still so active in the free-agent market after the transfer window closed spoke volumes.

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It has been a season of fine margins for West Brom - they have lost only four of 13 games so far but too many draws mean they are struggling.

Five of the eight games which have ended level have seen West Brom recover from losing positions, suggesting they were too reactive and did not get on the front foot often enough in games.

A team like West Brom, who were a Premier League staple for virtually the whole of the 2010s, expect to be up there challenging for promotion and so it is not a surprise to see them opt for a change in the dugout.

What now for Bruce?

It would now be a surprise to see Bruce be given another opportunity in English football, with many clubs choosing to go down the younger, more progressive route of coaching.

Even though the last few years surrounding the 61-year-old have been relentlessly negative, Bruce's career has overall probably yielded a net positive result.

He took Birmingham into the Premier League and was poached by both Wigan and then Sunderland when his stock was high.

A bump in the road came at Sunderland but he successfully rebuilt his reputation at Hull, taking the Tigers into the top-flight and to an FA Cup final.

Mixed spells at Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday were to follow before the supposed dream job at boyhood club Newcastle but it was a dream that turned sour very quickly with the Geordie never gaining any favour with the fans.

Another failure at West Brom means Bruce's stock looks to be low and he may reflect upon this and walk away from the training ground.

Dyche could be a shrewd replacement

Sean Dyche is one of the names being linked to the job as he seeks to get back into management following his Burnley departure in April.

The 51-year-old was widely acclaimed for his work at Burnley in taking a club up into the Premier League and stabilising them on a comparative shoestring budget - European football being the high-water mark for the Clarets.

Dyche wouldn't represent a drastic change from Bruce in terms of playing style and he would be able to command respect instantly.

Chris Wilder is another name being linked after his 11-month stint at Middlesbrough came to an end recently.

The former Sheffield United boss is more of a "progressive" type coach and has been a success virtually everywhere he has been. On the back of his first managerial failure on Teesside, the Yorkshireman may have something to prove.

His penchant for front-foot attacking football would appease the Baggies fans after they became dissatisfied with Bruce.

One left-field name who is being spoken about is Roy Keane, with the Irishman apparently being targeted for a return to management at The Hawthorns.

Keane has not managed since leaving Ipswich in 2011 and his work since has been as an assistant to Martin O'Neill at Nottingham Forest and the Republic of Ireland, while he also had a short stint at Aston Villa under Paul Lambert.

He did win promotion from the Championship in 2007 but it would be a risk to appoint someone who has not managed for over a decade. His abrasive and forthright style may not chime with a modern dressing room and the Baggies group probably need someone who can unite and put an arm around them.

It is an appointment the club must get right, otherwise they face the prospect of playing in the third tier for the first time since 1993.

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