Robson in line as West Brom ditch Megson

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Gary Megson's game of brinkmanship with chairman Jeremy Peace at West Bromwich Albion ended in defeat last night when he was relieved of his duties as manager.

Gary Megson's game of brinkmanship with chairman Jeremy Peace at West Bromwich Albion ended in defeat last night when he was relieved of his duties as manager. Peace will now try to broker a short-term deal with Sir Bobby Robson as his replacement, while Megson remains on gardening leave, haggling over a £500,000 contractual pay-off.

Megson has seemingly been goading Peace into giving him the sack for the last two months and has already received two written warnings regarding comments made to various media sources. Yesterday's decision to publicly announce he will not extend his contract at the end of the season has prompted the final act from an increasingly frustrated Peace.

Megson notified Peace of his intentions by internal memo on Monday, but that too appears to have backfired on him with the club now insisting that his written statement is nothing less than a resignation letter and Megson is only entitled to any compensation should he be sacked from his post. Frank Burrows has been handed temporary charge as caretaker.

A statement released by the club last night confirmed as much, saying: "Gary Megson has informed the board of West Bromwich Albion by letter that he wishes to leave the club at the end of his current contract which expires in around eight months time on June, 30, 2005.

"The club accepts this letter as one of resignation and the board believe it is in the best interests of WBA that Gary Megson no longer remains in charge of team affairs. As such he has been relieved of his duties, while contractual matters are resolved. This is a crucial period for the club and the board regard the timing and manner of Gary Megson's announcement as extremely unhelpful, particularly following the team's disappointing performance at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Nevertheless the board intend to move swiftly to appoint a new manager who will be fully focused on the job of taking this club forward in the Premiership." The relationship between the pair completely broke down when, earlier yesterday, Megson revealed publicly that he had no intentions of remaining as manager beyond the terms of his existing contract. That was always a moot point, with the likelihood of him being offered one, to extend his five years at the club, virtually nil.

Megson and Peace have been at odds since pre-season, despite the fact Megson achieved a second promotion in three years to take Albion back to the top flight. Megson's constant abrasive attitude angered Peace, especially as the chairman spent much of the summer jetting around Europe attempting to broker possible deals for new players.

While Peace was busy, Megson criticised him for the level of investment in the team and failure to bring in the calibre of players that would be capable of keeping the promoted side in the Premiership, despite spending in excess of £11m in the summer to acquire the likes of Nwankwo Kanu, Jonathan Greening and, more recently, Robert Earnshaw from Cardiff City.

Ironically he would love to be considered as a potential replacement for Keegan at the City of Manchester Stadium next summer, but, despite two promotions at the Hawthorns, his track record this season does not make him an obvious candidate. Albion are stuck in 16th place in the Premiership, with just eight points from 10 games.

Robson, 71, the former Newcastle United manager is now being eyed covetously by Peace, who wants a swift conclusion to the rancour surrounding the club. He believes there is still plenty of time available to Megson's successor to turn the season around and maintain the club's status. Robson is fit and available immediately, and, as such, remains the favourite.

It is understood that there have been preliminary soundings made to the former England manager about taking the post until the end of the season and for it to be reviewed after that. Although a more popular choice would be to appoint a younger manager, with Gordon Strachan, the most popular choice among supporters. However, Strachan is unlikely to want to be considered, which could open the way up for an approach to Glenn Hoddle, another name thought to be on the shortlist.

Ups, downs and rows: Megson's career

1959 Born 2 May, Manchester

1994 Starts coaching with Norwich after 18-year playing career with Plymouth, Everton, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City as well as the Canaries. Works as assistant to manager John Deehan.

1995 Takes temporary charge following Deehan's departure but cannot prevent the club's relegation from the Premiership. Revives his playing career with short spells at Shrewsbury and Lincoln before returning to Norwich as manager following Martin O'Neill's departure.

1996 Takes over at Blackpool after making way at Norwich for the returning Mike Walker.

1997 Takes Stockport to eighth in the First Division in his first season in charge.

1999 Moves to Stoke but stays only four months due to disagreements with the board.

2000 Appointed West Brom manager. Just keeps the club in the First Division.

2001 Guides them into the play-offs but they are beaten by Bolton in the semi-finals.

2002 Signs new three-year deal after Albion secure second automatic promotion spot from First Division.

2003 Albion relegated.

2004 Albion promoted.

26 October Relieved of duties by West Brom.

Top targets: Albion candidates

Sir Bobby Robson: The 71-year-old said that he wants to get another job in management when he was sacked by Newcastle earlier this season and he may well get his wish. There is a measure of support for the former England manager, albeit only in a temporary role until the end of the season.

Gordon Strachan: The Scot would be the popular choice with supporters. Out of work since leaving Southampton last season, Strachan has been using his sabbatical to concentrate on media work. Perhaps his name being mentioned with the poisoned chalice of Scottish national team boss may force him to go to The Hawthorns, although he may be waiting for a bigger domestic post.

Micky Adams: Adams resigned from Leicester City two weeks ago and has been on an extended holiday with his family, but he is determined to return to the game as swiftly as possible. Had one season in the Premiership with Leicester which ended in failure and that could count against him. However, his work ethic and passion may well win him some support.

Mike Newell: It would be a massive leap of faith to hand Newell the post, despite the sterling work he is doing with Luton Town. Clearly a young manager of obvious potential, but Albion need someone with greater experience who can achieve the main objective of retaining Premiership status this season. A long shot.

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