The predicted great escape was sadly not to be for West Bromwich Albion, a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool condemned Tony Mowbray’s side to life in the Championship. It seemed a late run of form was going to provide the springboard for the Baggies to perform another miraculous feat, ala 2007, but it was too little too late for them as relegation was confirmed on Sunday.
This season West Brom have spent most of their time languishing in or around the relegation zone and the inevitable was surely just a matter of time. In the summer Mowbray did not strengthen the squad adequately enough, the most significant being Gianni Zuiverloon, Scott Carson, Abdoulaye Meite and Borja Valero.
Scott Carson has looked a shadow of the player once tipped as the future England number one. His clear lack of concentration has cost the Baggies a fair number of points and it seems he consistently makes thoughtless decisions.Zuiverloon on the other hand has been impressive in the right back slot, attracting interest from Paris Saint German. Playing in a defence, which has shipped goals for fun, it is a credit to the young Dutchman that he is attracting such interest.
Credit must also go to two stalwarts of the Hawthorns, Jonathan Greening and Chris Brunt. Greening, the club captain has put in some marvellous performances this season, controlling the centre of midfield and driving his team forward. Chris Brunt has show he has some ability when striking a ball from a set piece, coupled with his rampaging runs down the right flank, he has shown his value to the team.
Borja Valero has also been a solid buy, signed for £4.8 million, a significant amount for the club. Valero can pass with artfulness similar to countryman Cesc Fabregas while reading the game like a seasoned pro. January signing Juan Carlos Menseguez has also caught the eye in recent weeks, and although only on loan, he may well return for next season.
Tony Mowbray has a young and extremely talented squad with bags of potential. He has a footballing philosophy that must be commended, not giving way to calls from the masses to drop his way of playing. The style shown by his team have earned them many admirers and respect from many, but the downside is the lack of defensive cohesion. This twinned with Scott Carson’s shaky performances have led to 60 goals conceded in the Premier League, a number that is not good enough.
One saving grace is the financial situation at the Hawthorns, with 16,000 supporters having already renewed their season tickets for next season. The club will find itself on a sure footing during their time out of the lucrative Premier League. It also seems most of the squad can be kept together, “We don’t have to sell players because we don’t have any debt at club,” said Mowbray. A statement backed up by chairman Jeremy Peace, “We can keep players we want. Their salaries are affected by what league they’re in.”
Most would agree, although West Brom are destined for the Championship, they play a brand of football that is most welcome in the Premier League and will be welcomed back with open arms come next May.