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21 November 2017, 23:27
West Brom would look to Tony Pulis as the manager to dig them out of relegation trouble if it wasn't for the fact he was sacked by the club on Monday, Paul Merson said on The Debate.
Pulis' three-year stint as West Brom manager came to an end with the club winning just twice in their last 21 league games.
A poor start to the season has left them one point above the relegation zone, and they have turned to Gary Megson to take interim charge while they search for Pulis' successor.
And with the club embroiled in a battle for Premier League survival, Merson says the Baggies would have looked to appoint someone with Pulis' credentials - with the Welshman having never been relegated in 25 years as a manager.
"They need to stay up. At the moment, if Tony Pulis wasn't the manager and you needed to get someone in now in a relegation battle, you would take Tony Pulis," Merson said on The Debate.
"They need to be careful. If you asked me who would finish higher between West Brom and Huddersfield and Pulis was still in charge, I would take West Brom all day long, because I know he would get it right.
"I'm not sure now. I worry about West Brom. For all the good players they have, it's not a young team, and as the season goes on, it will fade. I think it was a bad move, I really do."
Under Pulis, West Brom came 10th in the Premier League last season, improving on finishes of 13th and 14th in the previous two campaigns.
Pulis highlighted his ability to deliver such stability to the club in a statement via the League Managers Association following his dismissal.
And Merson believes West Brom fans should not take Premier League safety for granted, saying the club have performed well given the budget they have to spend.
"West Brom have to be careful what they wish for. Charlton were a steady Premier League club under Alan Curbishley, but the fans started saying, 'What? We're just staying up every year? We need more than this'. Where are Charlton now? Where are they? They haven't been back ever since," Merson added.
"We can all sit here as non-West Brom fans and say they need to go out and open teams up and start playing a bit. And then they get beat five and six-nil.
"You play with what you've got, and while they have good players, their confidence is low. It's hard to tell players when they're confidence is low, 'I need you to pass it here, I need you to go there'.
"Where should everybody be at the end of the season? I've said it all the time, you should get a list at the start of the season, based on each team's budget, and if you finish below where your budget can take you, good night."