LONDON: The status of ex-Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick as favourite to succeed England-departed Roy Hodgson as manager of English West Midlands club West Bromwich Albion has been enhanced.

First Claudio Ranieri agreed to take over Monaco in France after two rounds of talks with West Brom. Then the Baggies (English nickname for long shorts) were put off Chris Hughton of Birmingham City by the £2m-plus compensation demand of their second division neighbours.

Rangnick stepped out of Schalke last year because of stress-induced fatigue.

One of the first tasks for the new manager would be persuading Nigerian 30-year-old Peter Odemwingie and Sweden defender Jonas Olasson to stay with the club, who finished a solid 10th in the Premier League this past season under Hodgson.

Odemwingie has been a success since arriving from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2010. He was 10-goal top scorer this past season. However, the club have not been able to persuade him to sign a long-term contract. Olsson headed off to Euro 2012 only after telling sporting director Dan Ashworth that he would wait to see the identity of the new manager before deciding whether a contract which expires next year.

Other West Brom players at Euro 2012 will be Ireland forwards Shane Long and Simon Cox.

At least Hungary midfielder Zoltan Gera should be fit for the start of pre-season training in early July after being out of action since suffering a ligament injury against Tottenham last November.

West Brom – also known as The Throstles {nicknamed for the thrush) are one of the great old English clubs. They were formed in 1878 and were one of the founding members of The Football League in 1888. They have played at their Hawthorns site since 1900; their home, at 168m, is the highest of all the grounds of the 92 Premier and Football League clubs.

They have spent most of their existence in the top tier of English football but were champions only one, in 1920. They have had more success in the FA Cup, with five wins. The first came in 1888, the year the league was founded, and the most recent in 1968, their last major trophy. They also won the Football League Cup at the first attempt in 1966.

The club’s longest consecutive period in the top division was between 1949 and 1973, and from 1986 to 2002 they spent their longest ever period out of the top division. The 2011–12 season is their sixth season in the Premier League since 2002.

Traditionally, the club’s greatest ‘derby’ rivals were Aston Villa to the east from Birmingham but, more recently, the rivalry has been sharper with Wolverhampton Wanderers to the north-west – probably because the clubs interchanged status in the Premier and second divisions several seasons in a row.

Old heroes have included England internationals such as Bobby Robson (later England manager), record marksman Tony Brown and Laurie Cunningham, the winger who was one of the first black players to appear for England.

Hodgson was brought in halfway through the 2010-11 season to rescue West Bromwich from the danger of relegation. The manager who was sacked to make way for him was . . . Roberto Di Matteo.

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