Team Name: West Brom
Manager: Alan Irvine
Last Season: 17th
Who they’ve signed so far: Brown Ideye (£9m, Dynamo Kiev), Cristian Gamboa (Rosenborg, £2m), Sebastien Pocognoli (£1.5m, Hannover), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City, Free), Craig Gardner (Sunderland, Free), Chris Baird (Burnley, Free), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool, Loan), Jason Davidson (Undisclosed, Heracles)
Out the exit door: Billy Jones (Sunderland, Free), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers, Free), Zoltan Gera (Ferencvaros, Free), Steven Reid (Burnley, Free)
Key Man: Saido Berahino
The Burundi-born England Under-21 hotshot must have been mighty close to a full Three Lions call-up after his eighth goal of the season on New Year’s Day, despite starting just six times for the Baggies during the first half of the campaign.
Berahino has also struck seven times in eight appearances for Gareth Southgate’s England youths since making his U-21 debut 12 months ago, but the centre-forward’s winner in West Brom’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in September surely ranks as his finest moment so far.
However, West Brom will need much more from the 21-year-old this term than his eventual 2013/14 strike-tally of nine in 35 appearances.
Under the Radar: Brown Ideye
It may seem odd to identify a player that cost just shy of £10m as under the radar, but even new Baggies coach Alan Irvine admits that he’d never seen surprise Nigeria World Cup miss-out Ideye play in the flesh prior to signing him.
The 25-year-old managed close to a goal every other game for Dynamo over three years in Kiev claiming a Ukrainian Cup winners’ medal three months ago.
Team Liability: Chris Baird
Nobody else wanted the Northern Irish Premier League veteran, who was released by Fulham, Reading and Burnley over the past 15 months, so West Brom picked him up.
If this is the limit of Jeremy Peace’s ambition, then the stalwart chairman may have already accepted relegation as an inevitability.
Title Odds: 5000/1
Best Bet: To finish bottom @ 11/2
Our Verdict: After dropping nine places between 2012/13 and last season, it’s very difficult to imagine West Brom stopping the rot this term.
Irvine was sacked from his two previous managerial roles at Preston and Sheffield Wednesday, having been relegated to League One with the latter.
What were West Brom thinking when making such an uninspiring appointment in an attempt to ensure survival in Europe’s toughest league?
Expect abject failure.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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