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West Bromwich Albion
August 7, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 08/07/2012

The summer transfer window is an important time for all clubs, as they look to strengthen their squads to ensure success for the coming season. Additionally, it is always an exciting albeit frustrating time for the fans of these clubs. There is nothing more exciting than your club bringing in a new player, though depending on the player your excitement levels may vary. Every hint of a new signing, every little whisper, every dodgy twitter rumour is pounced upon and discussed by fans.

West Brom are no different, it is clear that signings are needed for the club to continue their progress in establishing themselves as a premier league club. And Albion have been fairly busy, bringing in Ben Foster, Yassine El Ghanassay and Claudio Yacob, with Swedish Forward Markus Rosenberg joining on a free transfer today.

Although making new additions to the squad is hugely important, for Albion I feel that the retaining of key players from their previous two premier league seasons is of even more significance than these new signings. In particular, I am talking about Jonas Olsson, Youssuff Mulumbu and Peter Odemwingie. The transfer window is an exciting time, but it is also a worrying time for anyone who like me, supports a club below the top 3 teams in this division, as key players are constantly linked with moves away from their clubs, like all three of these players have.

July 15, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 07/15/2012

It has been quite an eventful two months from the end of the season (my last blog) to now (my latest blog). In that time, Roy Hodgson restored a bit of pride in the national team with some gutsy if at times uninspiring displays at the Euro's which culminated in of course the hoodoo that even Hodgson can't break, England losing on penalties. It has also been an eventful few months for Baggies fans.

We ended the season with a mixture of delight at a top ten finish with a tinge of uncertainty following the departure of Hodgson to England. After a lengthy search, West Brom appointed Steve Clarke as their new head coach on a two year deal. A lot has been said and written about the appointment of Clarke so I thought I'd best add my two pennies worth to the mix.

At first I was a tad disappointed by the appointment, I'd been lured in with the links to Claudio Ranieri and Ralf Rangnick, two big-name European coaches and to get someone who hasn't been the top man at any club was some fall-down from that. It's been suggested in some quarters that Clarke is a risky appointment due this lack of experience, but I'd argue that any of the candidates Albion looked at were risky choices.

May 14, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 05/14/2012

So that's it then. The season ends with a good performance if not a disappointing 3-2 loss to Arsenal, who secured 3rd place with the victory. The atmosphere around the ground was fantastic, the fans showed their appreciation for the players and most of all for the departing Roy Hodgson, who of course has taken the England Job. I've already had my say on Roy, but I'd like to reiterate my thanks to him for a fantastic job and taking Albion to where we are at the moment.

The upcoming summer is certainly a big one for West Brom, the first port of call being a new manager, trying to keep hold of key players such as Jonas Olsson and Ben Foster, bringing in new signings to keep the squad fresh and prepared for a 3rd consecutive season in the Premier League.

But I'm not going to worry about that now, I'd like to look back on this season.

May 4, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 05/04/2012

A quiet week at West Brom I'm sure you'll all agree. Not a lot has really happened, only that our head coach has become the new England Manager. Firstly, that is quite some honour for a side like ours and although I am gutted about losing Roy Hodgson, I'd like to wish him the best of luck in that role.

There has been a lot of stuff written about Hodgson in all forms of the media this week. A lot of the national press have rightly received criticism for the way they've reacted to the appointment of Roy who for me clearly had the best CV to the job even if he isn't as "charismatic" as the people's choice Harry Redknapp. The local media and various bloggers have gone some way to defending the choice of Hodgson, spelling out exactly why he is the right choice for the job.

I don't feel I have a lot to offer in terms of a different perspective on Roy and why he will be a good manager for England, thus I decided I'd go through some of my favourite moments of Hodgson's tenure at the Albion.

March 23, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 03/23/2012

Last saturday's draw with Wigan would have shown both Roy Hodgson and the Albion fans an awful lot. Let's not beat about the bush, West Brom were shocking last weekend. It was one of those games that Albion have so often found themselves involved in, dominating only to be hit with a sucker punch. So for once, it was nice to have the shoe on the other foot.

But despite the point, this did hide some glaring problems with the Albion side and areas which will need strengthening in the summer. Let's look at some of the lessons learned from last Saturday;

March 14, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 03/14/2012

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog entries recently. I have been snowed under with school work and the like, so for anyone who has missed me, sorry!

I thought I'd talk about something that was widely quoted in the press recently regarding Roy Hodgson, who said something along the lines of, if he was to stay on as Albion manager it would only be if his level of ambition, both personal and for the club, was backed by the chairman.

Personally, to see Roy making this statement fills me with pleasure. If Albion really want to consolidate as a premiership club, firstly they need a premiership quality manager, and we have that in Roy Hodgson. We also need to support that manager by making cash available to take us to the next level. Hodgson is ambitious, he doesn't want a relegation fight every season, he wants us to push on, challenge for trophies and European football.

February 2, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 02/02/2012

I've got quite a lot to get through in this blog, so let's start with deadline day. A day which for most Albion fans is a bit of a non-event. We are not exactly renowned for activity on deadline day, particularly where money is involved.

So to see Albion bring in not 1 but 2 players on deadline day was, well, rather exciting! The first man to sign on the dotted line was Birmingham City defender Liam Ridgewell. The Baggies have been chasing Ridgewell since the summer window, and had previously seen two bids knocked back by their local rivals for the left back.

But Jeremy Peace's negotiation skills once again came to the fore, though for a time it had looked like Albion would miss the boat with Ridgewell, reports suggesting that the Blues hierarchy were not impressed with Peace's tough stance. In the end it paid off, with Albion signing Ridgewell for a fee believed to be in the region of £1.7 Million, £300,000 less than what Birmingham were said to be demanding.

January 8, 2012
Posted by Matthew Evans on 01/08/2012

Since this is my first blog of 2012, I'd like to wish everyone a (belated) happy new year, though 2012 didn't really get off to the greatest start for the Baggies, who lost to out to Everton at home with a poor performance and also lost away at Spurs, with a far more spirited performance despite the result being the same as Everton, 1-0 to the opposition.

What was notable in the Spurs game was the side Albion were forced to put out. For the game, they were missing the following; Jonas Olsson, Steven Reid, Chris Brunt, Youssuff Mulumbu, Shane Long. All of these have been pretty much permanent fixtures in the starting XI throughout the season, whilst James Morrison was on the bench carrying an injury and Jerome Thomas was then forced off midway through the first half with a groin injury.

These injuries are really starting to take a toll on Albion's campaign, and has raised questions over the back-up options they have, particularly following Roy Hodgson's comments at the end of the Everton game.

December 31, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 12/31/2011

I would not be sat here typing away at my keyboard creating this blog! However, for Christmas I got Football Manager 2012 and have been playing constantly ever since, which as players of the game will know, has made me an expert in managing football teams and particularly making transfers.

And with the January Window open in around 2 hours time, I thought I'd draw up a list of positions that Albion need strengthening and then some of the possible options in those positions.

December 16, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 12/16/2011

After the disappointment of the defeat against Wigan last weekend, this has been a question that has bothered Albion fans for most of the week. Firstly, I'm not sure bringing Odemwingie in against Wigan was the right move as Albion seem to work a lot better when there is a link-man between midfield and attack, so I'd have stuck with Graham Dorrans.

However, it is not hard to see why Roy Hodgson opted to include the Nigerian over Dorrans. We all know his ability, he played a big role in creating Shane Long's equaliser at QPR and a home match with Wigan was a great time to give Odemwingie some fitness and try to get the partnership firing, as if it had then there is no doubt in my mind Albion would have won the game. It was an attack minded move from a coach not renowned for such moves.

Alas, the partnership did not exactly fire on all cylinders. Albion lost the game and their seemed to be little understanding between the front two, with Odemwingie being substitued after 80 minutes(That would have done him the world of good fitness wise). I'm going to consider some of the reasons why this might be;

November 30, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 11/30/2011

Today, the worst fears of Albion fans were confirmed with Zoltan Gera being ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament after his foot got caught in the turf against Tottenham on Saturday. Firstly, I’d like to wish Zoltan all the best in his recovery and hope that our medical team do the usual fantastic job and to see him back at the start of next season fit and firing, in the Premier League.

It is a massive blow for Albion. Roy Hodgson really pushed through this deal, believing that Gera would be absolutely pivotal in Albion’s season. He brought him in despite knowing Gera would not be fit for the start of the season, he regarded Gera as one of three key signings Albion needed to make, the other two being Ben Foster and Shane Long.

November 4, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 11/04/2011

If the suggestions from the media are to prove correct, then it seems that Zoltan Gera is in line for his 2nd West Brom debut. The return of Gera will give an immediate lift to any Albion fan, you only had to see the reception he got at The Hawthorns for the Liverpool match-and he didn't even come off the bench!

I believe that Roy Hodgson saw the addition of Zoltan Gera as key when composing his squad for the season. Gera was injured at the time, and it was quite a big risk that the Baggies took. But I think the reason we took the risk is because Hodgson sees Gera as the final part of the jigsaw, in either a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1.

September 30, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/30/2011

Albion under Hodgson are starting to worry me. This is not a knee-jerk Hodgson out blog, the results aren’t great but it’s more the performances that are worrying me. We have become used to a diet of fast, free-flowing, attacking, attractive football coupled with calamitous defending. Hodgson clearly had to re-address the balance.

And you cannot argue that his work on Albion’s defence is yielding good results. Despite no big-name addition to the defence over the summer, plus the constant chopping and changing at centre half due to illness and suspension, we have looked a far more solid proposition. Albion have already kept two clean sheets this year, the same amount as last season, as well as a clean sheet away from home, which eluded them last year.

However I feel that to make Albion better defensively, Hodgson has sacrificed too much of Albion’s attacking flair. We have become a dour, dull and defensive side, and have at times looked very much a long-ball team. I expected Hodgson to be more pragmatic in his style, with the defence becoming more no-nonsense whilst playing attacking football once away from danger. It is hard to blame this long-ball effect on the defence.

September 21, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/21/2011

Saturday’s match at Swansea has certainly worried a lot of Albion fans, not just the result but the performance that went with it. We lacked any sort of creativity and cutting edge, therefore we tried to rely on staying tight and grinding out a victory...which didn’t work as shown by the 3-0 reverse suffered.

Tonight Albion head to Everton in the carling cup, and for some of the fringe players, there is a real chance for them to put themselves right into contention for a first team spot for the game 3 days later with Fulham. Therefore I’ve compiled a list of the fringe players who may find themselves as a first-teamer sooner rather than later with a good performance tonight.

September 5, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/05/2011

In the summer transfer window, Albion recruited four players to improve their defensive options. Gareth McAuley, Billy Jones and Martin Fulop all arrived on free transfers whilst Ben Foster arrived on loan. However, three games into the season and it seems to be that only one of these players is going to be a first choice.

And following the activity on dead-line day, it seems that instead of strengthening the weakest area of the side, Albion have in fact weakened it. The deals may have been lost in amongst the amateur dramatics performed by Jim White and the rest of the Sky Sports News team, but out of the door went Pablo Ibanez and Mareck Cech. Now neither of these two were exactly first team players, but they were certainly capable back-up.

But with those two now departed, it seems that Albion’s defence is weakened.

August 19, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 08/19/2011

Ahead of Saturday’s clash with Chelsea, Albion fans received some great news as the club confirmed that last season’s top goal-scorer Peter Odemwingie had put pen to paper on a new three year deal at the club following a whole summer of speculation regarding the Nigerian’s future. And now we can look forward to a potentially dangerous frontline of Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long.

It may be stating the obvious, but it was absolutely vital that Albion managed to tie Odemwingie down to a new contract. In the previous four seaons Albion played Premiers League football it was obvious what they were missing, a goal-scorer. And the one year that we did have a goal-scorer, Robert Earnshaw in the great escape season, The Baggies stayed in the premiership.

August 10, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 08/10/2011

What can West Brom fans expect from the new season? Well that question is always a tough one, such are the dramatic peaks and troughs the Baggies go through. At the start of last season, it was to avoid relegation, after the first couple of months Albion were riding high in the table and a top 10 finish looked a possibility. Then came a winter slump which eventually led to the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, which seemed unthinkable earlier in the season. Roy Hodgson replaced Di Matteo and was left with a very tricky 10 game run-in to save Albion’s season, which Hodgson so emphatically did Albion being safe before the final home game of the season. See what I mean about peaks and troughs?

I expect there to be a few changes to Albion this season under Hodgson’s leadership, now he has had a full pre-season and some of a transfer window to stamp his own mark on the squad. There is one area in particular that Hodgson will look to focus on, and that is the defence. When he arrived at the Baggies, goals were being leaked left, right and centre. Whilst Albion weren’t exactly water-tight under Hodgson, his influence was already clear in the short space of time he had to work with the squad.

July 23, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 07/23/2011

Owen Hargreaves’ outstanding form at the 2006 World Cup, alongside consistent performances for Bayern Munich, earned him a move to Manchester United for 17 Million Pounds in 2007. In his first season at United, Hargreaves played 34 games, including 23 out of 38 Premier League games. However, over the following 3 seasons he played a part in only 5 matches, and last season alone last all of 5 minutes in his return match before leaving the Old Trafford pitch for the final time.

Owen Hargreaves is an outstanding footballer, of that there is no question. And very rarely does the opportunity arise where a club can sign such a talented player for free. But as his appearance record shows, it will be a huge risk for whichever club takes on the midfielder, with his chronic knee injury and his undoubted bad luck.

Even so, West Brom were the first club to be linked with a move to Hargreaves, followed up with interest from his old England boss Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester and MLS side the Vancouver Whitecaps. Albion are blessed with an outstanding crop of midfielders already, with Zoltan Gera set to be added to the ever-expanding list once he proves his fitness following an ankle operation.

July 6, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 07/06/2011

This old adage seems most applicable to West Bromwich Albion at the moment with the Baggies on the verge of re-capturing Zoltan Gera and also showing an interest in former keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, who is not needed by Manchester United.

Why do so many abide by this saying? On paper, it seems that these two players rejoining the club would only strengthen West Brom as they look to consolidate in the Premier League. They would provide that most-valued of qualities, experience, which Albion still lack. Additionally, these two already know the club, the area and in Gera’s case, the head coach Roy Hodgson who brought Gera to Fulham, allowing the club to avoid the “settling in” period that often delays a signings impact.

However, delving deeper into the situation it is clear why some fans may be questioning the potential re-capturing of these two players. Both were well-loved amongst the fans during their previous stints at the Hawthorns, a poor second spell may taint the good memories those fans held. This is very sentimental reasoning, where as the cold truth of it maybe that these two are no longer good enough.

May 21, 2011

The season's over - after Sunday's game against whoever - so I've decided to talk about something irrelevant. Well, me, Jordan Garland, and Derek Maaijen have.

May 8, 2011

The Black Country Derby, a derby that according to the efficiently named ‘Football Rivalries Report 2008’, is the most hotly contested in all of the land.

February 18, 2011

Roberto Di Matteo –Robbie D to his friends – should never have been sacked: his performance over the first half of this season suggested that he was going to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. What’s more, with time, he was only going to improve as a manager.

February 6, 2011

Football, dear friends, is the realm of stupid people.

February 3, 2011

Football coverage is easy; observe: West Bromwich Albion have not been winning many games recently. Excepting the qualifiers “many” and “recently”, that is a relatively straightforward fact. But because it’s so brilliantly amazing and definitely a force for good, football coverage also extends to opinion, especially on the internet; observe: West Bromwich Albion are not a very good team at the moment. Sometimes though a third dimension appears; opinion appears so eloquent and so convincing that it begins to take on the semblance of fact; observe:

January 14, 2011

Consistency is dull. Aspiring towards it: foolish. Dylan doesn't play the old-stuff over-and-over again, because it gets monotonous - I imagine. West Brom don't win all the time, because it gets monotonous - I imagine. My Manchester United friends often say to me that winning the treble was the worst season they've ever experienced because it was too "samey."

Obviously everything in that opening is a joke - I have no friends, for example. West Brom's inconsistency this season is not because they don't want to win every game. Rather, West Brom don't win all the time for a variety of reasons. A list of words summarising their season follows. What fun.

November 23, 2010

Having missed the deadline for the Wigan-based piece, The West Brom Blog has decided to publish regardless. What’s more, ‘The Blog’ will be being replaced by Ethan Dean-Richards from the next post onwards. How exciting. Anyway...

November 12, 2010

Did you enjoy that semi-provocative headline? Did you? Well This in-demand Blog does not have the time or inclination to maintain that tone, so instead, enjoy a barely readable 317 words about Wigan versus West Brom.

(Yes, The Blog is aware that It promised a piece on the Yousuff Mulumbu, but that will come in the next few days)

September 21, 2010

The needless creation of outrage and widespread displeasure are the cornerstones of This Blog. With that in mind It would today like to pose a ludicrous question: Are West Brom better than Chelsea?*

August 27, 2010

A banner carrying racist connotations created by Lokomotiv Moscow fans ©PHOTO CREDIT

Racism is horrible: to use more elaborate phraseology is to soften the sentiment. The issue has appeared on West Brom's agenda for the first time in This Blog's memory following the arrival of Peter Odemwingie from Lokomotiv Moscow, which prompted a group of Lokomotiv’s fans to create a banner celebrating his exit, using a banana as a pretty appalling, derogatory reference to his race.

David Young Matthew Evans: I've supported West Brom all my life, and it's fair to say that they give me my fair share of ups and downs. I'm always guaranteed an emotional rollercoaster of a season whatever division the Baggies are in. I try to remain positive in my views on Albion, although that is impossible at some points. My favourite Albion player of the moment is Youssuff Mulumbu, and of my lifetime it has to be Super Bob Taylor.You can follow me on twitter @MattEvansWBA

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