Football - Downing uncertain over future

West Brom caretaker head coach Keith Downing admits he is unsure whether the FA Cup defeat against Crystal Palace will be his last game in charge.

Downing has been holding the reins ever since Albion parted ways with Steve Clarke on December 14 following a run of four successive defeats and just one victory in 10 matches.

He has insisted all along he does not want to take the position full-time, but it still remains to be seen who and when a new manager will be installed - with the club's next game away at Southampton in six days' time.

West Brom recently ended talks with former Real Betis boss Pepe Mel, while the bookmakers currently have Mirko Slomka, Malky Mackay and Jose Luis Mendilibar as the frontrunners.

Asked for the latest on his situation, Downing replied: "There's no change, I spoke to the chairman a couple of days ago - it's ongoing, take the Palace game.

"So, really, I sound like a broken record. I'm continuing the do the job I was asked to do two or three weeks ago.

"I'm not sure (if this will be my last game). I'm going to come in on Tuesday and obviously prepare the team for Southampton.

"I've always said that when someone comes in I'm there to support and help the best I can."

Downing's first loss of a five-match spell at the helm came on Saturday as Palace triumphed 2-0 at The Hawthorns to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

It came on the back of three draws and a 1-0 victory over Newcastle on New Year's Day - the Black Country club's first Barclays Premier League win in 10 attempts.

And, should it prove to be his last game pulling the strings before returning to his assistant role, Downing hopes his spell will be seen as a positive one.

"Hopefully we've changed a little bit of momentum," he said.

"I was always reluctant to step into Steve's shoes because I had a high regard for him. It was with a heavy heart to start with but obviously you have a job to do.

"I've always stated I wanted to come out of it with a decent reputation, with integrity, hopefully you guys (the press) who had never really heard of me have the kind of respect I've shown."

Dwight Gayle's first-half strike proved the difference for Palace before substitute Marouane Chamakh converted a second goal with the last kick of the game deep into injury time.

View comments (0)