Attractive football has been the agenda at The Hawthorns this season, and for once its the home team strutting their stuff against their awestruck opponents. Years have passed; failed attempt after failed attempt of securing Premier League safety (bar one unlikely season) haunts every individual fan as the blow of each relegation never seems to cease hurting. 4 promotions since 2002 have defined West Brom as the true yo-yo club of the 21st century and now, in 2011, could history repeat itself once again?
Roberto DiMatteo has transformed the club in the brief time since his arrival from MK Dons in the summer of 2009, guiding West Brom into the top flight at the first time of asking, finishing second behind Newcastle United. The ex-Chelsea midfielder, 40, has orchestrated the Baggies with his own brand of fast, flowing, fluent play; breathless in some instances and has introduced a number of foreigners into his team who have proved integral to the bright start of the 2010/11 campaign.
However, the winter period has not been kind for West Brom, with just 2 wins since the beginning of December, slumping from a rosy 8th place to a precarious 15th coming towards the end of January. The type of thoughts amounting in the minds of those concerning West Brom is whether they dare to slip further into the mire over the final few months of the season.
However, with 15 matches still to play, their fate lies within their own efforts, a positive being that the fixture list shows a match against every team below them between now and May. With home games against West Ham, Wolves, Wigan and Villa segmented alongside away journeys to neighbouring strugglers Birmingham and again, Black Country rivals Wolves, nail biting 6-pointers await, and without the cliche-machine that is Andy Gray on the SkySports panel anymore, a feast of live barnstorming battles can commence peacefully without incident.
An upsurge in form could place insignificance upon those games however, as the hardworking, talented side, equilibriated with guille and style, may find themselves targeting the top half, such is the close proximity of many teams in the middle regions of the table. The current run, coupled with many disasterous decisions that even a woman referee could spot (sarcasm of course) has given the table a massive shake up.
The talents of free-kick genius Brunt, the strength of Tchoyi, the aerial presence of Tamas and Scharner and the lone striking sensation Odemwingie have proved to the division that this side hold the necessary experience and skill to compete and remain with their peers for at least another season. Improvements are as easy to spot as Paul Scholes’ ginger hair and credit must go to DiMatteo. His inexperience at this level portrays a man with not just a fresh fashion sense, but a footballing brain working overtime to devise cunning tactics and win games instead of holding out for draws. A team as organised as soundly as West Brom’s deserves to keep their place as their attacking style has been a breathed new life into what was a stagnating Premier League before this season.
However, their defence remains a corridor of uncertainty, having conceded the most goals in the league, particularly away from home. Resounding wins against Arsenal and Everton are just the two away successes for the Baggies this term, both home teams having underperformed to a degree. 8 losses and 2 draws accompany those wins, proving that there is still a way to go before they can be known and respected in the division. Away from The Hawthorns, West Brom are a different team and it is a situation that requires instant attention.
Peter Odemwingie, a revelation this season has won games by himself with glorious strikes. An injury to said poacher could spell disaster; Roman Bednar, Reuben Reid, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Simon Cox would offer little condolence to the petrified fans if an injury did occur. The January window remains open and if DiMatteo could provide a little bit of something to excite onlookers, then the season tickets will roll off the printer in preparation for Manchester United and Arsenal the following season.
Blackpool and Newcastle have proved that there are solid, well structured sides coming up from the Championship and it would be a real shame to lose another if West Brom do slip down that familiar route once again. The consolation is that it is in their own hands and the luck and grit that has betrayed them in the past could be bestowed upon them just in time.
Latest Football Blogs
- Morning Mix: Henderson not the answer for United, Ndidi delivers a midfield masterclass
- The stories behind Leicester’s special FA Cup win
- UEFA Women’s Champions League: Last 5 finals
- Arsenal will take on Chelsea and Tottenham in a pre-season charity tournament
- 2021 FA Cup Final: Over land and sea (and Leicester)
- NFT’s: The next big thing within football?
- Review: Manchester City’s route to an emphatic Premier League title triumph
- Why media got the Jens Lehmann racism incident completely wrong
- Manchester City vs Chelsea: 2021 Champions League final preview
- Manchester United vs Villarreal: 2021 Europa League Final Preview