West Bromwich Albion FC
Nickname: The Baggies
Chairman: Jeremy Peace
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Ground: The Hawthorns
Best League Finish: 3rd in Division 1
Player of the Season: Youssuf Mulumbu
Last Time Out: Norwich 1 West Brom 2
Top Goal Scorer Last Season: Peter Odemwingie
One to Watch: Peter Odemwingie
West Brom had a very up and down season last year, yet a courageous decision by the board to sack Roberto Di Matteo and replace him with Roy Hodgson proved successful and kept them in the Premier League.
Apart from a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea, the Baggies started the season in good form managing to climb up to 4th in the league table after a creditable victory and draw at Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford respectively. A run of 7 defeats in 9 games saw West Brom drop drastically down the league, costing Di Matteo his job.
Roy Hodgson was brought in after a disappointing time as Liverpool boss, and in his first match saw his new team lose a three goal advantage at home to West Ham. West Brom however went on to stay undefeated for 7 games, and in the process kept the Baggies safe from relegation.
The summer saw the first transfer window of Hodgson`s reign at The Hawthorns and changes were expected to be made as he looked to input his own style into the Midlands team.
There were many departures from the club with many of players brought in by previous managers leaving, including Scott Carson, Ishmael Miller and Marek Cech.
Hodgson looked to free transfers and loans for a majority of their signings, many coming from the Championship. These players were Billy Jones from Preston, Ben Foster from Birmingham, Gareth McAuley and Marton Fulop from Ipswich. While a familiar face returned to The Hawthorns on a free transfer in Zoltan Gera who worked with Roy Hodgson at Fulham, whom he joined from.
West Brom`s marquee signing came in the shape of Shane Long, a player who was linked with Norwich, from Reading for a record fee of around £7m. Long was brought in to provide help to last season`s top goal scorer Peter Odemwingie, and has already started scoring goals against Chelsea and Manchester United in their opening fixtures.
Roy Hodgson found most of his early managerial success in Sweden and Switzerland, as a stint as Bristol City failed as he only won 3 games in 20.
His good win percentage for both Malmö FF and Neuchâtel Xamax helped to land Hodgson the Switzerland national job. Hodgson took the Swiss team to their first World Cup in 1994 for 28 years, losing only one game during qualification, from a group that included Italy and Portugal. They finished runners-up in their group, qualifying for the Round of 16 where they lost to Spain.
After securing qualification for Euro `96, Hodgson left before the tournament to join Inter Milan. Helping to rebuild the side, he managed to take them up to 3rd in the league and to the UEFA Cup final before being replaced.
Hodgson went on to manage a number of high profile clubs and national teams, including Blackburn Rovers, FC Copenhagen, Udinese and Finland.
After a disappointing time at Finland coach, Hodgson moved to Fulham where he enjoyed success by taking the London club to their first European final, managing to defeat Juventus and German champions Wolfsburg. The impressive run in Europe encouraged Liverpool to employ Hodgson as their manager, yet he encountered a difficult time to turn things around after Rafa Bentinez`s poor final season.
Hodgson joined West Brom halfway through last season, replacing Di Matteo after a poor run of form. He went to turn around The Baggies defence which ultimately kept them in the top flight.
West Brom have had a difficult start after facing Manchester United and Chelsea in their opening two games, while losing to a late winner from Stoke in controversial style. The Baggies did make a good account of themselves against the two heavyweights however, and only last minute goals could secure the three points for both Man United and Chelsea.
Roy Hodgson has managed to tighten the West Brom defence and making them a difficult side to play against, so simple passing will be needed break down Albion meaning the diamond formation could be effective. City will have to watch the counter attack of West Brom who can turn defence into attack quickly with a midfield full of creativity and pace. While there`s always the threat up front of new signing Shane Long, who is rated as 50/50 for the match, and star player Peter Odemwingie who has recovered from an ankle problem.
Another different game tactically for Lambert to face, so I expect changes to be made to the starting line-up. Good performances by City players on international duty and the return of James Vaughan will help in our favour, but the teams are too even to choose between. 2-2 Draw.
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In Profile: West Bromwich Albion
West Bromwich Albion FC