Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion

There are only 2 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at West Brom.

Last year was a difficult season for the Baggies as they finished in 17th place and only 3 points above the relegation zone. A lack of goals was a major concern and their top scorers, Saido Berahino and Stephen Sessegnon, ended the season on a measly 5 league goals. Manager Steve Clarke was sacked after a poor start to the season and Pepe Mel replaced him. Mel kept West Brom in the Premier League but left the club, by mutual consent, at the end of the season. The Baggies have since hired Alan Irvine and will hope that he can turn their fortunes around.

The Manager
Alan Irvine is an unknown entity in Premier League management so it is difficult to know how he will adapt to his new surroundings. He has previously managed Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and, most recently, Everton’s youth team. He was sacked at both Preston and Wednesday after poor runs of form at each club so Irvine’s appointment represents a gamble on Chairman Jeremy Peace’s part.

This is Alan Irvine's first job as a Premier League manager

This is Alan Irvine’s first job as a Premier League manager

Biggest Signing
The Baggies have been busy in the market so far and drafted in 6 new recruits. Albion’s biggest signing, in money terms, is Brown Ideye who joined from Dynamo Kiev for £10 million, a club record. Remarkably, Irvine admitted that he had never seen Ideye play before splashing the cash on him, which is bizarre given the large fee involved. However, the transfer that will excite the Albion fans more is the arrival of Joleon Lescott from Manchester City. Lescott is an experienced defender who the Midlands club will be delighted to have landed on a free.

Lescott is a quality signing for the Baggies

Lescott is a quality signing for the Baggies

Who is tipped to join them?
Alan Irvine will be keen to add reinforcements to what, on paper, looks like a side that will struggle to score goals. The main player currently linked with a move to the Midlands is Jonathan Biabiany from Parma. Biabiany is a French Winger who was a product of Inter Milan’s youth system and is likely to cost around £5 million.

Biabiany would be an exciting addition to the Premier League

Biabiany would be an exciting addition to the Premier League

Who should they sign?
As mentioned previously, the Baggies are a team who are short of goals and will, therefore, be looking to add to their attacking options. Brown Ideye is an unknown entity and if he fails to meet expectations then West Brom’s season could become disastrous. Berahino has great potential but they won’t want to rely solely upon him for goals and Victor Anichebe, frankly, does not look good enough to lead a potent attack. Albion should bring in a more experienced Premier League attacker to bolster their options. Unfortunately, Jeremy Peace runs a tight ship and Irvine will have to operate on a strict budget. A loan move for Victor Moses would make sense for both player and club.

Victor Moses will be available on loan from Chelsea again this season

Victor Moses will be available on loan from Chelsea again this season

Key Player
Ben Foster. One position that West Brom is not lacking in quality is in goal and keeper Ben Foster is a safe pair of hands for them to rely on. He has recently returned to the England set up and the Baggies will need him to maintain his excellent form in order for them to survive.

Foster is vital to West Brom's survival plans

Foster is vital to West Brom’s survival plans

The Midlands side were perilously close to the drop last season and I haven’t seen enough improvement to their squad to suggest that they will pull away from a relegation battle this season. Of course, Irvine could prove to be a masterful manager and Brown Ideye could turn out to be a player of the quality of Benteke or Bony to fire them up the table but I just don’t see it. West Brom are notoriously a yoyo club who bounced between the Premier League and the Championship and I think that they will return to England’s second division after this campaign. Expect West Brom to finish 19th.