The big question of the early summer was who would replace Roy Hodgson. In the end the Baggies have plumped for renowned coach but not so renowned manager Steve Clarke. The respect for his ability as a coach is evidenced by his previous employment at Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool. However his only previous managerial experience is a 5-1 defeat to Manchester United whilst the caretaker boss of Newcastle back in 1999. That’s not to say he won’t prove to be a success but it’s the kind of punt that could lead to relegation if it doesn’t work out.
No big names have been brought in though Ben Foster’s services have been retained after he impressed whilst on-loan at the Hawthornes last season. Loanee Yassine El Ghanassy looks an exciting young talent but he may need time to settle. Markus Rosenberg is an experienced international with a solid if unspectacular scoring record. It’s Claudio Yacob who could prove a shrewd signing. If the Argentinian settles in quickly he’ll add some much needed steal to the Baggies midfield.
Clarke used his Chelsea connections to get Romelu Lukaku on loan for the season. the Belgian youngster has yet to make a mark in the Premier League but the less pressured environment of West Brom could see him shine.
Something to be positive about
Clarke could turn out to be a managerial genius and lead the Baggies on a good cup run and achieve a top ten finish in the Premier League.
Something to be a bit worried about
Clarke may not be a managerial genius, in fact that 5-1 loss to Utd back in 1999 may be an accurate indication of his ability to pick a winning side. Worst case is West Brom in the relegation zone and Clarke’s head on the chopping block by Christmas.
An optimistic season bet
If you’re after some blind optimism then the Baggies are 50/1 to win the FA Cup. You can also back them at 20/1 to be top without the big 6. They were only nine points off 7th place last season so it’s not completely impossible.
A more realistic season bet
If Clarke and his signings work out then consecutive top ten finishes will be well within West Brom’s reach at 5/2.
Yassine El Ghanassy (AA Gent, loan)
Ben Foster (Birmingham, £4m)
Markus Rosenberg (free)
Claudio Yacob (free)
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, loan)
Packing their bags
Keith Andrews (released)
Marton Fulop (released)
Joe Mattock (released)
Nicky Shorey (released)
Somen Tchoyi (released)