You know those people who go on holiday to the same place every single year? Every summer jetting off to sunny Mallorca trying desperately to have a good time, before reality bites hard on the arse and its back off home; nursing a sore head, pink face and a crippling post holiday depression. Well, perhaps the time has finally come for an extended holiday, or to emigrate, or to stop this analogy altogether because I’ve clearly dragged it as far as I can. If you didn’t know, this is in reference to West Brom. Not in a disparaging manner, but just to welcome the Baggies back, again, to the Premier League.
It’s been an up, down, up, down cycle for a number of years now, West Brom currently finding themselves back on the ‘up’ with an astute need to break the chain and attain stability. Indeed, the fluctuations make you feel a little sorry for the fans; that is until you realise it’s very patronising and at least they have ‘enjoyed’ raw emotions on an almost yearly basis – whether giddy euphoria or crushing blows – rather than life’s usual humdrum mundanity.
Certainly, it was an impressive 2009/10 season for West Brom, seeing them comfortably achieve automatic promotion by 11 points. Much of this was thanks to a flowing and forceful attack; scoring a league total of 89 goals (just one off Newcastle’s total). Dorrans shone as the star of the side – scoring 18 goals from midfield and picking up the club player of the year award – but the like of Brunt, Cox, Mulumbu, Koren, Olsson and Carson were all vital.
If going forward was a distinct asset, then defensively Wet Brom still look fragile and will require strengthening. Whilst the permanent deal for Gabriel Tamas has been secured following his successful loan spell, and though Olsson did look commanding for much of the season, they will likely need more security for the Premier League campaign; most notably at full-back. However, it could also be more systematic. The attacking finesse is admirable but it may require curtailing slightly in order to accumulate the adequate points tally. They must become hard to beat as a basis.
Di Matteo has highlighted key areas for improvement. His desire to form a sturdy spine is paramount and he, somewhat unsurprisingly, stated ‘I would like to make us a little bit stronger in defence’. He has already created what seems a slightly more resolute and rounded side than the last Premiership hopefuls, hence possessing a better chance of survival. His first shot at Premier League management will certainly be difficult, but – as demonstrated throughout his career – he appears adept and gifted enough deal with it.
Back in the Premier League, back on a swift vacation? Lets hope this time West Brom can finally unpack, settle down and stay a little longer. Again, though the form of a dragged out holiday analogy, welcome back!
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