Eleven In, Pepe Mel Out: A Brilliant Window For West Brom
In years to come this transfer window will be remembered for many things. It will be remembered for Diego Costa joining Chelsea, Falcao and Di Maria joining Manchester United, Fabregas returning to the Premier League for Chelsea, Liverpool basically buying Southampton. It’s unlikely many will look back and remember West Bromwich Albion.
Perhaps unnoticed by many, West Brom have been the most active club in the Premier League in this summer transfer window making eleven signings. Included in those eleven is Brown Ideye; a player that saw Albion break their transfer record to sign.
The eleven signings were definitely needed. The 2013/14 season had been nothing short of a disaster for the club. Poor decisions blighted the club both on and off the pitch and it was through pure fortune that there happened to be three worse teams to go down. Steve Clarke had lost his way, Pepe Mel was not the right man, refereeing decisions against Albion were dire, and most importantly, the new signings and other old players were poor throughout.
The clubs reaction to that poor season was much more swift than any Albion fan is really used to. Ten players (including the five on loan with options to buy) were released; many of whom were first team players. Pepe Mel didn’t even make it to see them go as he went the day after the season ended.
The new signings started to come. Some shrewd business has seen Albion sign eleven players and, arguably, seven or eight of them will be first team regulars. It is a complete overhaul. It’s a new look West Bromwich Albion. But will it work?
West Brom have made more noise than anybody else this transfer window. Have you been listening?
Alan Irvine was the man chosen to replace Pepe Mel. A man with a distinctly average management record, it hardly set the Albion fans alight in optimism for the new season. Of all the signings, perhaps the most underwhelming of the lot has actually been Alan Irvine as the new head coach. But the clue is in the job title; he isn’t a manager as such, he is a coach, and if you believe what people say, he is a very good coach at that. However, just because he is a good coach does not mean he’ll be able to gel so many new faces in with the rest of the team, at least not immediately. It will take time and Albion need to be patient.
Three games (and one League Cup game) in to the new season and Albion find themselves with just 2 points on the board. Two sound draws to start the season followed by a very uninspiring penalty shoot-out win against Oxford United in the league Cup and a 3-0 drubbing by Swansea and Irvine is already under pressure from the Hawthorns faithful. He has an uphill climb to win many of the fans over, he needs wins and for that to happen he needs the new signings to work out.
Unfortunately for Irvine several of the transfers, including Ideye’s, have been hampered through a variety of circumstances ranging from work permits to injuries. Only a few of the eleven have had what could be classed as a proper pre-season. And it gets worse when looking at the other players in the team; Stephane Sessegnon, James Morrison, Gareth McAuley and others have been injured or away from the squad. Match fitness at Albion is not there. Even if all the players were match fit only four of the new eleven have played consistently in the Premier League. You get the impression that Alan Irvine is a man that has been thrown in to a fire and he needs to find a way out before he burns.
So whilst the rest of the country look at the transfer window and discuss the activity of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, bare it in mind that in the Black Country there’s a team that have done more. And spare a thought for the man trying to put the eleven new pieces in to his puzzle.
It’s going to be an interesting season at The Hawthorns.