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West Bromwich Albion

So the end is near…

West Bromwich Albion’s season will draw to a close at Ewood Park tomorrow when the Baggies travel north to take on Blackburn Rovers. The game has no real importance, the only thing that can be achieved by either side is that West Brom could move off the bottom of the table if they win and Middlesbrough lose at West Ham.

The Baggies have struggled throughout this season after a promising start to life in the Premier League. Tony Mowbray’s style of fluid, quick moving football has comer back to sting the Baggies purely because the players are not good enough to win games playing this way.

Football - West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool Barclays Premier League

Mowbray - have his footballing principles cost Albion

 There have been problems all over the pitch for Albion this term starting with their goalkeeper Scott Carson. Teams that come up and hope to stay up need a solid base to build on Stoke City have this in Tomas Sorenson but West Brom almost certainly don’t in Carson. He has made a number of errors including turning Gabriel Agbonlahors tame shot into his own goal at Villa Park and dropping a cross to allow Carlos Tevezto tap into a empty net against Manchester United. But all blame cannot lie with Carson for the amount of goals the Baggies have shipped (67 to be precise) some blame has to go with West Brom’s poor defending. The Baggies have leaked a lot of goals this season thanks to poor defending. Paul Robinson at left-back has been the culprit at times with his sheer lack of pace and poor positioning being punished in the Premier League. Centre backs Leon Barnett and Abdoulaye Meite have both had many lapses over the season most notably against Newcastle. If Shearer’s men manage to stay up then they can thank Barnett and Meite for two assists to help them to a 3-2 victory at The Hawthorns n February. Gianni Zuiverloon at right back has had an up and down season, he started brightly looking threatening coming forward but as the season progressed he was found wanting in the defensive department which cost Albion. he has been able to string together a few better performances recently but unfortunately they have been too late. A bit of good news for WBA this season has been the form of Jonas Olsson. The centre-back signed in August from NEC Neimejen for a shade under a million pounds and he has proven to be a decent capture. His height makes him a physical threat going forward or defending set-pieces. Although he has made a couple of slight mistakes Olsson has proved to be a defender who could have a future at the top level.

The Baggies have been praised for their pass and move style of build up in the middle of the park this season and the midfield has been the most impressive area of the team. West Brom’s central midfielders are all players of similar attributes and caliber JonathanGreening, Robert Koren, Juan Carlos Menseguez, Filipe Teixeria, Kim and James Morrison are all players who can pass the ball well but do lack a bit of physicality which has cost Albion this year. The addition of Yousuff Mulumbu has helped in this area but it has been too little to late. Chris Brunt who has been voted Albion’s player of the year has looked impressive throughout the campaign. His ability to deliver a wonderful cross and ability from set-pieces have not gone unnoticed – his recent good form has lead him to the top of the goalscoring charts for The Baggies an achievement that sums up the ability of West Brom’s strike force.

The strikers have been Albion’s achilles heel of all achilles heel’s this season. They have struggled to score enough goals throughout. Even when they have scored enough defensive errors have meant the goals have amassed to nothing. Ishmael Miller appeared to be first choice before he injured his knee in December but endured a torrid run of form in the early part of the season and literally could not buy a goal. Miller finally broke his duck during a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle in October and went on a decent run before injury struck him down. Roman Bednar has had the most success in front of goal out of West Brom’s front men bagging six league goals before he fell out of favour with Tony Mowbray and recent incidents off the field mean that Bednar will almost certainly leave The Hawthorns this summer. Luke Moore has had a small role to play but his awful goalscoring record and lack of effort mean he is in the bad books of most Baggies fans and has fallen out of favour with Mowbray. Jay Simpson has fallen into the same category as Moore after a good start to life at The Hawthorns his poor goalscoring record and again lack of desire have left Albion fans wandering if he is really good enough to be at Arsenal. Simpson will definitely be going back to the Emirates in the summer. One bright spark along with Brunt and Olsson for West Brom has been Marc-Antoine Fortune. He has looked a threat since coming to the Premier League and has bagged a few goals in his time at The Hawthorns and also laid a few on for team-mates. It is unlikely Albion will be able to sign him on a permanent from Nancy as other Premier League clubs are sniffing around him.

All in all West Brom have deserved to go down but next season I would expect a return to the promised land if the core of the squad can be held onto especially the midfield, Olsson and Fortune. Look out for the Mowbray masks on show tomorrow every Albion fan will be donning a mask in tribute of the managers work 1 minuite before kick off

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