Last year went brilliantly for the Baggies but resting on the laurels will be dangerous. What elevated them above the relegation scrap and hurtled them in the general direction of Europe was the not inconsiderable ability to turns draws into wins. With just seven league stalemates last season, only Manchester United had fewer draws. It’s a small but significant fact because they were beaten 17 times in the league, the same amount as Sunderland and Aston Villa teams who were scrapping for survival almost to the end.
Steve Clarke needs to strengthen, particularly without Romelu Lukaku to call upon. Matej Vydra could be an adequate replacement for the Chelsea star and if it was about four years ago, picking up Nicolas Anelka and Diego Lugano would be that bit more exciting. Both players still have a lot to offer, but aren’t the sure-fire hits they once were. The prospect of an Anelka tantrum always looms large, but at least the Baggies are in a strong enough position where it may not matter too much.
Overly optimistic pre-season tweet:
Less optimistic Christmas-time tweet:
Bitterly disappointed end of season tweet: