There weren’t many people who gave West Brom much of a chance under Alan Irvine at the start of last season, and clubs were probably more inclined to pull the trigger early with Tony Pulis available. Things didn’t look good for a while but as ever, Pulis turned it around and guided Albion to safety.
Last Season: Premier League (13th)
Manager: Tony Pulis
GKs: Ben Foster, Boaz Myhill, Jack Rose
DFs: Jonas Olsson, Joleon Lescott, Sebastien Pocognoli, Christian Gamboa, Liam O’Neil, Gareth McAuley, Craig Dawson
MFs: Claudio Yacob, James Morrison, Craig Gardner, Chris Brunt, James McClean, Callum McManaman, Darren Fletcher, Stephane Sessegnon
FWs: Brown Ideye, Victor Anichebe, Saido Berahino, Adil Nabi
In: James McClean (Wigan Athletic)
Out: Wes Atkinson (Released), Chris Baird (Derby County), Donervon Daniels (Wigan Athletic), Jason Davidson (Huddersfield Town), Graham Dorrans (Norwich City), Bradley Garmston (Gillingham), Alex Jones (Birmingham City), Youssuf Mulumbu (Norwich City), Kemar Roofe (Oxford United), Georgios Samaras (Released), Alex Palmer (Kidderminster Harriers – Loan)
First Six: Manchester City (H), Watford (A), Chelsea (H), Stoke City (A), Southampton (H), Aston Villa (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-5-1) Myhill – Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Lescott – McManaman, Fletcher, Yacob, Morrison, Brunt – Berahino
A word from…Joe Mayo
On his playing career with the club I had a great time, Don Howe signed me from Walsall which was a bit of a surprise! We did go and play against the Albion Reserves and I managed to score a hattrick the week before he signed me, so that was good news for me!
Unfortunately the day I signed for them they lost a match against Crystal Palace and were relegated from the top division! It was great to sign for them but a bit of a nightmare to see them relegated on the same day. I went over and played in the reserves for a bit, Howey was an absolutely fabulous coach and he taught me so much in the first three or four months.
I felt after that, with what he taught me, that I would go on and have a good career in football.
On Don Howe He had a coaching method for every part of the game. Fitness was always a big part of it, we’d run a lot and do a lot of exercises which would strengthen your body. He did spend a lot of time with the players, coaching them up and in a way going down to that second division was good for him as it allowed him to train players back up.
We were getting beat in the top division because players were fitter than us but when the club went down that stopped happening!
On the financial muscle in today’s game I’m very surprised by the money these days, at one point when I was playing money was starting to be thrown around and I thought teams were just going to go under!
There were talks about the bottom divisions disappearing and the fourth division becoming semi-pro and I got out of all that. But a few years later everything changed, the money came in. I don’t regret any decision I made but I just find it difficult to understand now, the lack of loyalty.
Football was built on loyalty back then, the money has changed the game so much that club’s don’t always know where they stand with players and where they’re going.
On ownership issues You can look at it both ways, as long as people are coming in with the right intentions it’s good. I played out in Hong Kong and I’m not saying they’re all crooks but there were deals going on out there that didn’t seem right at the time.
But you look at teams like Man City and the success it’s brought them. They’re playing much better football and the fans are loving it but then you look at Blackburn and Cardiff. It doesn’t guarantee success, it’s about making sure you’ve got the right owners.
Do they understand the English game? That’s the question. I watched games last year when we got beat and it didn’t seem like there was the same competitiveness in the big games, like teams don’t understand the importance. It doesn’t even seem a big thing to win the FA Cup now, we would have given our right arm to get to a final but foreign owners don’t seem to care about the importance and just want to put their money into a name.
On Tony Pulis and working their way up He’s got us getting results and he knows the value of money. He’s always gone and got the right sort of players for the right money, they come and play and put the effort in.
He had some players at Stoke who he made to look like world-beaters and then they leave the club and don’t look half as good. It’s obviously a case of the manager getting the best out of them, he looks at their strengths and if they’ll suit his game. He got the back four playing together and Craig Dawson had a good end to the season, they all did, he got the results that were necessary.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: It’s a good job the club have Tony Pulis leading them as summer business has so far been lacking and the squad overall is one not necessarily good enough to keep their heads above water. But with Pulis in charge, miracles do happen.
Key Player: Claudio Yacob – Towards the end of last season, Yacob put in some stunning individual performances as West Brom hit a spot of form, particularly at Old Trafford. The South American has been a great signing for West Brom and continues to impress.
One to Watch: Callum McManaman – He showed all the talent in the world at Wigan and had several bright spells in a West Brom shirt last season. If he can continue to improve and play like he did for Wigan, he’ll have a great season in the Midlands.