West Brom are clearly recognised by most Premier League fans and pundits as the yoyo team of the division. Over the last 10 years they have been promoted to the Premier League four times and relegated three times. Even their now classic BOING BOING celebration sort of represents their predicament as the perennial yoyo club. However West Brom now have the chance to finally get a firm footing in England’s top flight.
In the last ten years West Brom have kept getting relegated back to the Championship for a few reasons. First chairman Jeremy Peace has refused to spend big when going into the Premier League. He has wanted the Baggies to stay strong financially by spending within their means and not spending too much money in desperation to stay in the “promised land” of the Premier League. We have seen clubs such as Hull City and Portsmouth very recently spending a lot more than they could really afford in the pursuit of safety but they still both got relegated and ended up in serious financial trouble when relegated to the Championship. West Brom have not done this and they have been able to keep the core of their team, thus leading to more harmony — and more loyal players willing to play and compete for the Baggies in both the Championship and Premier League.
Also the Baggies attacking style of play, typified by the team under Roberto Di Matteo, has led to their title of the yoyo team. Their attacking free-flowing football has always seemed to work for them in the Championship with promotion coming quickly but it has typically been part of their downfall in the Premier League with teams not allowing them to play their style to their full potential.
Now though, West Brom with Roy Hodgson as manager have a real chance to establish themselves as a mid-table Premier League side. After the controversial sacking of Di Matteo in January, Hodgson was brought in to keep West Brom up which he did with ease. Now with Hodgson’s tactical awareness and some spending in the summer transfer window, West Brom should be able to push on.
The signing of the impressive Shane Long shows intent from the Chairman to try and stay in the Premier League for a sustained period. Long has impressed already this season and West Brom are already in 12th place after a slow start.
The Black Country outfit now have a very solid spine to the team with international goalkeeper Ben Foster, strong midfielders in Josef Mulumbu and Steven Reid along with the impressive strike partnership of recent addition Long and last season’s top scorer Peter Odemwingie. With Hodgson instilling a good balance between attack and defence, as emphasised by the last half of the previous season, it now means the Baggies look very strong. The defence looks stronger with three clean sheets already this season and with the strike force along with creative wingers/midfielders in Jerome Thomas and Chris Brunt it looks as if West Brom should have no problem scoring plenty of goals this season.
Of course there is the possibility of the fabled “second season syndrome” setting in for West Brom. It certainly did set in for the likes of Reading and Hull recently. However this season is the chance for West Brom to really start to prove themselves as a Premier League team because they’ve now definitely got the people, the resources and know-how to do so.