Downing uncertain over future

  • Last Updated: January 5 2014, 13:25 GMT

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.

Keith Downing: Future up in the air
Keith Downing: Future up in the air

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.

Tony Pulis, who guided Stoke to the FA Cup final in 2011, is masterminding an impressive turnaround in fortunes since his appointment in charge of the Eagles.

This victory has now ensured the south London club are in Sunday's fourth-round hat for the first time in four years.

"Everyone will be looking at the draw and there will be a lot of Crystal Palace supporters hoping for a home tie," Pulis said.

It is the fourth time he has tasted victory in his nine games in charge.

And Pulis admits that winning feeling, in whichever competition it comes, can only help build momentum as he looks to help the club avoid relegation from the Premier League.

"If you're winning and keeping clean sheets then it helps," he said. "We've got a tough 18 games ahead of us.

"It's a smashing result, the lads are really pleased. We'll give them an extra day off because they need a little bit of a rest before we go again."

The January transfer window always proves a crucial period for teams with aspirations at both ends of the table.

The Eagles have been linked with a host of names and Pulis does not hide from the fact that he is keen to bolster his ranks.

"I think it's really important that we do," he said. "I spoke to the chairman and we need to do some dealing if we can."


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