West Brom season review - Quiet progress made as Albion establish themselves in Premier League
West Brom - 10th
FA Cup - 4th Round
League Cup - 2nd Round
Progression and stabilisation. Whisper it quietly, but West Bromwich Albion finally find themselves slowly becoming an established Premier League club, having finished securely in mid-table for the second consecutive season. This might not have been a season that will go down as one of the greatest in the clubs history, but it did see the Baggies reach their highest league finish for over 30 years, and will go some way to abolishing the yo-yo club reputation they had built for themselves over the last few seasons.
West Brom were unlucky with a few difficult fixtures to start the season, but new boy Shane Long’s goals in the consecutive 2-1 defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea were promising signs. His partnership with Peter Odemwingie blossomed in the early stages, and was a key factor when the Midlands outfit finally did start picking up points, with an away win versus Norwich and an impressive week in October in which the club picked up two derby victories within seven days, overcoming Wolves 2-0 and Aston Villa 2-1.
The derby victories eased the nerves of the Baggies faithful and the remainder of the season was carried out in a rather repetitive but comfortable manner. Too good to lose against clubs struggling at the foot of the table, but not good enough to challenge those in the upper echelons of the league, the side were destined for mid-table from here on in.
The most impressive period of the season came with three consecutive victories in February and March. The 5-1 away hammering of bitter rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, followed up by a 4-0 thumping of supposedly in-form Sunderland and a terrific 1-0 win over Chelsea thanks to a Gareth McAuley goal made the league sit up and take notice that West Brom were a team to be feared this season. But this incredible burst of form was not to last, as Manchester United proved too strong for them at Old Trafford.
Long however did not perhaps get the goals over the course of season that Roy Hodgson hoped he would, only managing a total of seven in 28 appearances for the club. Long, who signed from Reading for a record transfer fee, started the season well but the goals came too intermittently. However, there were signs of encouragement from the Republic of Ireland international, and if his partnership with Odemwingie can develop yet further next season, then West Brom can start looking even further up the league table.
West Brom’s season can be summed up by the fact that the club never lost, nor won, more than three consecutive games this season. Too good for a relegation battle, but not yet good enough for a push for European football is the story, but should the current vacant managerial position fall to someone in the same vein as Hodgson, few would argue that West Brom’s development as a club is certainly something for the Premier League to watch out for.
Manager - Roy Hodgson: Hodgson leaves the club to lead England to Euro 2012 this summer with a heavy heart. The fans took to him and he took to them, leading West Brom to two relatively very successful campaigns. His excellent work with the Baggies certainly helped him land the coveted England job.
Key Player - Ben Foster: Foster has had a terrific season at the Hawthorns and the club will be doing everything possible to tie him down on a permanent deal from Birmingham City. His game has come on leaps and bounds over the season, having often saved the Baggies points single-handed.
Turning Point - Baggies blast past Wolves: The season was a comfortable one without many twists or turning points. The burst of form which saw thumpings of Wolves and Sunderland, and a famous victory over Chelsea, will be the part of the season that will be most fondly remembered by the Baggies fan-base.
Check out the Euro 2012 odds and get some tips on the European Championships betting.