So, I was having a chat with my fellow TFF colleagues and I brought up West Brom in a discussion. One of the reasons why is because I thought that ever since they won promotion back in 2010, they haven’t really done anything special. They have had a few wins over Arsenal (some of them, annoying, especially as an Arsenal fan) and treated their home fans to a 5-5 spectacular against Manchester United on the last weekend of the 2012-13 season. It just has not been enough.
Now, I’m not expecting them to win the title or qualify for the Champions League (let’s be real here, they’re no Leicester City), but this is the season where I think they have to do something or become a club like Aston Villa were- mediocre and uninspiring with a very real prospect of selling off their better more ambitious players without replacing them.
Following their relegation from the Premier League back in 2006, they won promotion at the second time of asking in 2008 but got relegated again the following year, winning promotion for the second time in three seasons (the definition of a yo-yo club). Also, they haven’t had a cup run since the 2007-08 season where they lost to Portsmouth in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Since then, they’ve been a stable side, much like Cardiff City in the Championship. Not good enough to challenge near the top, but too good to go down (or so it may seem).
Their best finish in the Premier League has been eighth in the 2012-13 season under Steve Clarke where they picked up notable wins over Liverpool (home, and away), and Chelsea (home). Their worst finish has been 17th in the 2013-14 season. That season saw the sacking of Steve Clarke following a poor run of form which saw the Baggies win only one game in seven fixtures. Keith Downing temporarily took over before Pepe Mel oversaw the rest of the season which saw them win a further four matches.
To avoid this article becoming a history lesson, I’ll explain why West Brom should do something spectacular this season. To me, they seem to have become a little too comfortable, much like Arsenal were in the Champions League and with comfort comes danger.
In the last 10 years, the North London side qualified past the first knockout stage of the Champions League three times in succession. Since then, they’ve been “unlucky” not to qualify past the round of 16 (2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13, though you could also include 2014-15 season, but I wouldn’t include that). It seems that after peak success, the comfort has settled in and become frustrating for fans and even the odd neutral observer.
The point I’m trying to make is that comfort is a bad sign and the fact that the West Midlands side have shown signs of that shows that their stay in the top flight is at risk of coming to an end. The League has no time for hangers-on.
As I said earlier, I’m not expecting West Bromwich Albion to have a “magical” season like Leicester City did in 2015-16, but this is the season where they should do something a little special, a little different and a lot better.
So, now over to you, the reader. What should West Brom do to end their “passenger” status? Where do you expect them to finish this coming season? Are they really “too good go down”? Would a possible cup run aid their stay in the top flight?