Premiership Preview: West Brom

Over the years West Brom have been regarded as one of the shrewdest teams in the top flight and despite their modest budget, they have still been able to hold their own at this level.

However, this summer has been somewhat different and rather than being admired by most in the division, the Baggies have turned into something of a laughing stock. They’ve made several bizarre decisions and this is probably the reason why most bookies have them at fourth favourites for the drop. Compared to last season, this is a stark difference and just highlights the regression that the Baggies have experienced.

What happened last season?

This time last year, under Steve Clarke, there only seemed to be one way in which West Brom were heading. They had strengthened over the summer and following some encouraging results at the start, many believed that they at least had a top half finish in their locker.

However, the wheels came tumbling off. Some poor form prompted Clarke’s dismissal, in a move that many classed as premature. In his place came Pepe Mel and while he may have forged an impressive reputation abroad, he struggled to make any sort of impact at the Hawthorns. In fact, after just a handful of games the pressure was starting to mount and while he did mastermind the club’s survival in the end, it was eventually that he wasn’t the man and he promptly departed at the end of the season.

Has it been a busy summer?

It’s been a busy summer both on-the-field and off it for West Brom, with the first piece of significant news revolving around the appointment of Alan Irvine. Considering the fact that Irvine never really set alight the Championship during spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Preston, this decision is bizarre at best and probably the main reason why the bookmakers think that the Baggies are major relegation candidates.

Nevertheless, there are some positives. They have broken their transfer record to sign Brown Ideye and with the striker having a total of 74 goals in 182 career appearances, he certainly knows where the goal is.

At the back the club have also strengthened significantly. Joleon Lescott has arrived on a free transfer from Manchester City and we don’t need to highlight the importance of this signing, with Lescott being one of the most consistent centre halves at this level over the years. Andre Wisdom will prove to be another shrewd arrival and even though the on loan Liverpool man doesn’t boast much top flight experience, he was one of the Championship’s key performers last year and will prove to be a powerful weapon in the full back position.

The likes of Sebastien Pocognoli, Cristian Gamboa and Jason Davidson made up some of the Baggies’ other acquisitions although with all of these arriving from abroad, it will be interesting to see just who manages to make the leap.

In terms of outgoings, the club have managed to keep the bulk of their side together. Other than Billy Jones, who opted to join Sunderland upon the expiry of his contract, all of the other departing men have done so on West Brom’s terms.

What’s the prediction?

West Brom have experienced a completely mixed summer. In one regard the appointment of Alan Irvine just makes you wonder what exactly is going on, but on the other there’s no doubt that they have made some very good signings.

Admittedly, most are from abroad and there is always an element of risk when this occurs. However, at the back the likes of Lescott and Wisdom will strengthen them significantly and make them much harder to break down.

Bearing the above in mind we’ll agree with the bookies. The Alan Irvine-factor could prove to be significant and despite strengthening over the summer, we think they could be one of the prime candidates for the drop.

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