When No.2s become (No)1s

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Former Liverpool assistant manager Steve Clarke has emerged as a leading contender to replace Roy Hodgson as West Bromwich Albion's new boss.

The 48-year-old is one of the most highly rated coach's in the country, and after leaving his post at Anfield yesterday, is now favourite for The Hawthorns hot-seat.

Clarke boasts a wealth of experience having worked as a number two at Chelsea and West Ham, prior to his stint on Merseyside under Kenny Dalglish.

His role in Jose Mourinho's backroom team at Stamford Bridge during their back-to-back Premier League title-winning campaigns in 2005 and 2006 was pivotal, drawing plaudits on numerous occasions from the Portuguese tactician, who claimed Clarke would one day make a top manager.

At West Ham, he came in to work alongside Gianfranco Zola at Upton Park, the two knowing each other well from their playing days together at Chelsea, and again was seen as an important part of the first-team set up.

Now, having left Liverpool following the sacking of Dalglish, and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers - who announced his plans to bring in his own coaching staff - Clarke is reportedly keen to step into a managerial role.

The West Brom job will present a hard act to follow in Roy Hodgson, having guided the Baggies to a top-10 finish in the Premier League last season. But, it is a challenge that the Scot would likely relish.

Of course, Clarke will not be the first understudy to make the step up to senior management. Those who have followed a similar path have achieved varying levels of success, as GiveMeFootball reflects...

Chris Hughton

After spending most of his playing career with Tottenham as a left-back, the former Republic of Ireland international joined Spurs' backroom team as coach and later as assistant manager between 1993 and 2007.

Hughton left White Hart Lane to take up a role as first-team coach at Newcastle in 2008 - a club he later earned his first managerial appointment. Following the Magpies' relegation from the Premier League, he was placed in caretaker charge of their first season in the Championship.

However, after orchestrating an immediate return to the top-flight and starting the 2010-11 campaign promisingly, Hughton was controversially sacked by Mike Ashley, despite establishing a promising reputation in management.

In June last year, Hughton was appointed manager of Birmingham City where he was forced to operate under severe restrictions, but did so with great dignity.

He guided the Blues into the play-offs where they were beaten in the semi-finals by Blackpool, as well as juggling a Europa League campaign with an extended run in the FA Cup.

The 53-year-old is now set to return to the Premier League after Norwich City were given permission by Birmingham to speak to Hughton about replacing Paul Lambert at Carrow Road.


Steve McClaren

After retiring from playing in 1992, McClaren began his coaching career as a youth and reserve team coach at Oxford United, before a spell as assistant manager at Derby County.

In 1999, he was approached by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to replace the outgoing Brian Kidd as his number two. In two years at Old Trafford, McClaren established a reputation as one of the most tactically astute coaches in the country, using modern methods such as video analysis and sports psychology.

His managerial career began at Middlesbrough after his appointment in 2001 marked the start of a five-year tenure at the Riverside, winning the League Cup in 2004 and finishing as UEFA Cup runners-up in 2006.

McClaren served as England manager between August 2006 and December 2007, but was sacked after failing to qualify for Euro 2008. Having been vilified by the national press, he later moved to Holland, taking over at FC Twente, with whom he won the club's first Eredivisie championship in 2008-09, which went some way to restoring his reputation.

Following a brief spell in Germany with Wolfsburg from May 2010 to February 2011, McClaren returned to England when he was appointed manager of Championship side Nottingham Forest. However, he lasted just ten games in charge at the City Ground and so returned to Twente in January this year.

Roberto Di Matteo

When Andre Villas-Boas was somewhat controversially sacked by Chelsea owner Roman Ambramovich in early March, the Italian assistant was promoted to caretaker manager for the remainder of the 2011-12 campaign.

In just three months at the Stamford Bridge helm, Di Matteo led the Blues to the FA Cup final, beating Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley, and later won the Champions League for the first time in the club's history with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

The former Chelsea midfielder has had previous managerial spells at MK Dons and West Brom, but returned to a coaching role at his old club, when he was appointed as part of Villas-Boas' new-look backroom staff.

Di Matteo's appointment would be a popular choice amongst the Chelsea players, who are keen for the fans' favourite to stay in west London. After delivering the European crown that Abramovich so desperately craved, his managerial career is well and truly alive and kicking.

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