West Brom: Megson is a man on a mission

Gary Megson knows more than most that league management can be a crazy and bizarre business.

While he was being widely applauded for steering West Brom to promotion against the odds, all was not well at The Hawthorns.

The celebrations had hardly subsided when chairman Paul Thompson announced he was quitting.

Thompson claimed the manager had made it clear he could not work with him.

Megson had been critical of the club's infrastructure and felt things needed to change if they were to continue their upward curve.

While he is a man who likes things done his way, Megson denies he is a control freak.

"All I want to do is manage a team to the best of my ability," he said. "There are a lot of decisions that have to be made."

He is a man of contrasts and someone who does not suffer fools gladly.

On the one hand, he fines players two weeks' wages if they are late for training or booked for dissent.

On the other hand Megson has been known to invite the players' relatives into the dressing room for the final moments of his team talk.

That happened on the final day of the season when they needed to beat Crystal Palace if they were to secure second spot in the table.

The result - a 2-0 home victory and a place in the Premiership ahead of Wolves.

"I told the players they were not on their own," said Megson, who recently finalised a new contract which will keep him in charge until 2005.

"They were playing for the people close to them.

"I told them there were 20,000 people out there. These are the people you owe it to."

Family is more important to Megson than football and he is not afraid to admit it.

He was stunned to learn that his assistant Frank Burrows was suffering from kidney cancer.

Burrows was away from the club for seven weeks after having life-saving surgery last autumn.

Megson said: "The worst thing that happened at this football club was when Frank came in and said he had cancer.

"The best thing was that the operation was a success and he was then given the all-clear. That moment eclipses anything the club achieved.

"It was similar to when my wife Barbara was ill a couple of years ago. It puts football into perspective.

"That was a really bad thing that happened to our family. But it probably helped me personally because trying to keep West Brom up wasn't the most important thing to me.

"What happened to Frank is more important than anything that can happen in football."

With former Portsmouth, Swansea and Cardiff boss Burrows back at Megson's side, Albion surged into the Premiership.

Megson's reward was to be named the Nationwide Manager of the Year and a new three-year contract.

As a player he was a hard-working midfielder for a number of clubs including Everton, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, Manchester City and latterly Norwich.

It was at Carrow Road he got his first coaching role, becoming assistant to John Deehan when Mike Walker left for Everton.

Megson then had spells in charge of Blackpool, Stockport - taking them to eighth in the First Division - and Stoke before being named Albion manager in March 2000 when he replaced Denis Smith.

Albion avoided relegation by three points and improved dramatically the following season.

They finished sixth and qualified for the play-offs, only to lose to Bolton in semi-finals.

This time around they made it to the promised land thanks to Megson's special brand of man-management.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now