Season Preview: #18 West Brom

Another club this season that has appointed a new manager (Head Coach) is West Brom. Dan Ashworth is the main man regarding transfers at the Hawthorns in his role as Director of Football. Steve Clarke was a surprise choice to follow Roy Hodgson who left the club to become England manager. Clarke takes on his very first role in management after spells as a coach and assistant manager at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and more recently, Liverpool.

“Boing, boing, boing” it looks as if West Brom have finally ditched their reputation of being a yo-yo team after last season’s tenth place finish, the club’ highest league placing in 31 years. As the Baggies enter their third consecutive season in the top flight but they will start the season with a third different manager since being promoted: Roberto Di Matteo (2010-11), Roy Hodgson (2011-12) and now Steve Clarke (2012-13). All different styles in their own right, but Clarke, as a former defender, should tighten up the defence that has conceded 71 and 52 goals respectively in the past to season.

Nobody really knows what to expect from Steve Clarke, but he has seen six former first-team players depart: Somen Tchoyi, Nicky Shorey, Keith Andrews, Martin Fulop, Simon Cox and Paul Scharner. Ben Foster has joined, having spent last season on loan from Birmingham, while Yassine El Ghanassy and Romelu Lukaku have both arrived on loan this season from Gent and Chelsea respectively – while Swedish international striker, Markus Rosenberg joined from Werder Bremen. The Baggies seem to have plenty of strength in depth when it comes to the midfield and up-front, for example, Steven Reid, James Morrison, Jerome Thomas, Graham Dorrans, Shane Long and Peter Odenwingie.

Finishing 11th and 10th in the past two seasons, the Baggies should be again aiming for a mid-table finish, well above the relegation zone this season. Under Clarke, West Brom are already a bit of an unknown quantity, but he has retained the vast majority of the players that finished last season – if anything, it could be a challenge for the Scot to make the step up from No. 2 to being No.1 but an interesting season lies ahead at the Hawthorns.

Opening five fixtures: Liverpool (H), Tottenham (A), Everton (H), Fulham (A) and Reading (H)

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