In my opinion West Brom will struggle this season, they are well equipped to go down (sorry WBA fans) but then come straight back up. To me Alan Irvine is a strange appointment given his level of experience of managing top flight, sustained Premier League sides. He has managed Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and Everton’s academy so I fail to see how he has got this job on merit or, in my opinion, does someone at the club expect them to go down and then Irvine bring them back up? This is in my eyes a dangerous ploy because getting promoted from Championship is very difficult.
West Brom’s only won 7 games last season. Below I will look at all the players loaned into the club, as well as the players signed on multi-million pound deals, to see how they can change that. They have made shrewd signings and brought on board players with a multitude of experience between them. With these players they could be in with a decent chance of staying up.
Andre Wisdom (Loan)
While on loan from Liverpool to Derby last season Andre Wisdom didn’t make one single defensive error all season. This was at Championship level I know, and a stat like this does make me wonder why Liverpool didn’t keep hold of him. It is also yet to be seen how much game time he will get at West Brom. The 21 year old figures in Liverpool’s future for sure but can he keep West Brom in the league this season with strong performances at the back, like he did at Derby County last season? Alan Irvine loves youth and I think that is why Wisdom will get games. While at Derby they kept 8 clean sheets in their 46 games, something that Andre Wisdom will look to put right at his new club.
Craig Gardner (Free)
This is an excellent signing in my eyes. Gardner was one of Sunderland’s best players last season, he consistently performs at a high level for 90 minutes, week in, week out and very rarely succumbs to injury. He has a great left peg, and takes free-kicks and penalties too. Again, he is a great signing and one that could make a difference for WBA next season.
Joleon Lescott (Free)
Yes, Joleon Lescott on a free! What a coup that is from WBA and Alan Irvine. Lescott signed for Manchester City from Everton in 2009 for a reported £22 million pounds, so to get him on a free, with all of his experience and his ability to play in multiple positions is an excellent move. He has experience of playing in the biggest games and for a team that has won the title and competed in Europe, so West Brom will hope he can call on his past and use it to steer them from the drop.
Brown Ideye (£10,000,000)
This guy is, as of yet, an unknown quantity.The 25 year old has played most recently for Dynamo Kiev, where he scored 33 goals in 74 games and posts an impressive goal every other game throughout his career, he has played in the Champions league and is a poacher. He is great in the box and can hold the ball up well, he is a powerhouse and has already been compared to the legendary Hawthorns striker Cyrille Regis (no pressure kid). He has natural pace too, something missing from West Brom’s attacking line up since Romelu Lukaku departed. West Brom will be calling on him to get the goals this season (something they struggled to do last season). He has played 24 times for Nigeria too, scoring 5 goals. Again, this is another player with valuable experience, someone that can actually keep West Brom in the league.
Sebastien Pocognoli (£1,500,000)
This is a guy with a whole host of experience. He has played in Europe for what seems like a long time, but considering he is still only 26 he has a lot to offer to West Brom. Plying his trade as a left-back, the Belgian is 5ft 11 and has played for Standard Liege and more recently Hannover 96. He moves to The Hawthorns with a great reputation, someone Alan Irvine would have requested. He has also represented Belgium 18 times (12 times in the Olympics). He can keep them tight at the back and call on that Champions League experience to help West Brom.
Down to this, I believe West Brom are well equipped if they fall out of this league, however, with the signings they have made its going to be a close call.
Ratings, comments and debates are welcome