West Bromwich Albion Season Preview
Ahead of the new Premier League season, Sky Sports examines West Brom's strengths and weaknesses as well as giving you the chance to select your preferred Albion XI...
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 14/08/14 9:57am
Can West Bromwich Albion enjoy a successful season? Here's the lowdown on what's new at the Hawthorns...
With West Brom about to embark on their fifth consecutive season in Premier League and the finances looking good, the Baggies ought to be regarded as a picture of stability. However, after going through Steve Clarke and Pepe Mel last season, some supporters have been left underwhelmed by the appointment of 56-year-old Alan Irvine as the latest head coach. Will the Scot last longer than his predecessor?
Apart from Irvine’s arrival as head coach, West Ham have recruited England international defender Joleon Lescott as well as veteran utility man Chris Baird to add experience to an already savvy squad. Albion have been more than willing to look abroad for value too though and Carlos Gamboa joins after starring in the World Cup for Costa Rica, while the club has also broken its transfer record to bring in Nigerian striker Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kiev.
It’s difficult to look past Ideye given the fee involved and the fact that the Baggies are in dire need of a goalscorer and arguably have been since the ignominious end to Peter Odemwingie’s career at the Hawthorns. Nobody scored more than five Premier League goals for the club last season and Ideye will be expected to improve on that statistic significantly. The 25-year-old will not be fully fit for the start of the season but anything close to his 17 goal tally for Dynamo in 2012/13 could transform Albion's fortunes.
Baggies chairman Jeremy Peace has been happy to make the big decisions regarding changing coach and it’s largely paid off for him so far. However, much of that success has been down to the experience of senior players such as Jonas Olsson, Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt safely navigating the team through difficult periods. Will the old heads be able to see off another crisis if things go wrong under Irvine?
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- Last term, West Brom went seven PL games without a win at home between January and April; the longest winless of its kind in the division.
- The Baggies were involved in 15 draws in the Premier League last season, more than any other side.
- West Brom conceded a joint-league-high 11 times in the opening 15 minutes of matches last term.
West Brom were flying under Steve Clarke before they sacked him last season. I don’t understand what these clubs expect sometimes, they seem to get ideas of grandeur. If West Brom stay up that will be a success for them, although the board probably won’t settle for that and sack the manager. But when I look at their players I don’t think they should be doing anything more. They’ve got fairly average players and they won’t go down. But they won’t be challenging the top eight. The board have to accept that and give boss Alan Irvine time.