thumbnail Hello,

With a new manager in Alan Irvine and the club having splashed the cash on record signing Brown Ideye in the summer window, are the Baggies set for a successful season?

A new manager, a transfer record summer signing - it's been a summer of change at West Brom ahead of the their first Premier League game of the new campaign on Saturday.

After a disappointing end to pre-season, that saw the Baggies fail to record a victory in their last five matches, Goal assesses how Alan Irvine and his side are shaping up ahead of the big kick-off this weekend.
 
INS

West Brom broke their transfer record this summer - on a player whom their manager had never seen play.

Brown Ideye arrived from Dynamo Kiev back in July for club-record fee in the region of £10 million and Baggies fans will be hoping he can replicate some of the form he showed during his time in Ukraine, having scored 34 goals in 74 appearances for Kiev.

Experienced defender Joleon Lescott has signed on a free transfer following his release from Manchester City and Costa Rica international Christian Gamboa, who featured in five games at the World Cup in Brazil, has also joined from Rosenborg.

Craig Gardner and Chris Baird are two more who have been brought in by Irvine following their release from Sunderland and Burnley, respectively, while Liverpool right-back Andre Wisdom has joined on loan after a successful loan spell at Derby last season.

Belgium defender Sebastien Pocognoli, who missed out on appearing at the World Cup due to injury, will compete for the left-back spot after he was brought in from Hannover 96, and Australia international Jason Davidson completes the Baggies's business up to now.


 
OUTS

There's been something of a clearout operation having taken place at the Hawthorns this summer, with plenty of changes being made by the new manager after Pepe Mel's exit.

Versatile defender Billy Jones has made the switch to Premier League rivals Sunderland on a free transfer, while Liam Ridgewell has also been allowed to leave and has signed for MLS club Portland Timbers.

Fan favourite Zoltan Gera has quit for Hungarian club Ferencvaros while Steven Reid has joined newly promoted Burnley and Diego Lugano, who helped to knock England out of the World Cup in Brazil, has been released.

Promising youngster George Thorne was allowed to leave for Derby, although his season has been cut short due to a cruciate knee ligament injury, while 21-year-old defender Cameron Gayle has left for Shrewsbury Town and Donervon Daniels has gone to Blackpool on loan.

Morgan Amalfitano, who had an impressive loan spell at the Hawthorns last term, has returned to Marseille, meanwhile, and Udinese forward Matej Vydra has joined Watford on a tempoarary deal for the 2014-15 campaign after the conclusion of his West Brom loan.

Espanyol striker Thievy Bifouma is another loanee from the last campaign who has returned to parent club and young midfielder Scott Allan has joined Hibernian after being released by the Baggies.
 
SQUAD ASSESSMENT

It is not difficult to see why West Brom have been tipped by many to be relegated in the upcoming season.

Their squad looks devoid of genuine quality and, if their run of five pre-season matches without a win is anything to go by, they're going to struggle to get off to a positive start when the Premier League kicks off this weekend.

That said, former Manchester City defender Lescott will undoubtedly be out to prove his career at the top level isn't finished and in Gamboa and Wisdom, there is good competition for the right-back berth.

Ben Foster is an experienced, if sometimes erratic, goalkeeper but the onus will certainly be on record signing Brown Ideye to hit the ground running in his first season in England's top-flight.
 

SAFE PAIR OF HANDS? | Foster's 2013-14 Premier League stats

England Under-21s international Saido Berahino showed flashes of brilliance in 2013-14 and the new season represents a real chance for him to emerge as a key man for the Baggies.

The likes of Chris Brunt, Gardner, James Morrison, Stephane Sessegnon, Victor Anichebe and Youssouf Mulumbu all have bags of Premier League experience between them but will that be enough to keep Irvine's troops afloat?
 
STAND-OUT STAR

After splashing out a record £10m fee on Brown Ideye, Baggies fans will be expecting their new striker to be their main man in the 2014-15 campaign.

The 25-year-old, who was a surprise omission from Nigeria's squad for the World Cup, has an impressive goalscoring tally from his time in Ukraine with Dynamo Kiev but the big question is over whether he can adapt to the Premier League.

Although not the tallest, Ideye is a powerful presence in attack and his pace will worry opposition defender if he sees enough for the ball in what will likely be a lone striker role at the Hawthorns.

Baggies fans have seen proven Premier League goalscorers such as Peter Odemwingie, Shane Long and Everton's £28m man, Romelu Lukaku, come and go in various capacities over the last couple of years and the pressure will now be on Ideye to supply the goals to keep his side in the division.

Irvine has suggested that Ideye will start Saturday's opener at home to Sunderland and, with the Black Cats also likely to be battling at the bottom, it would certainly be a good place for the Nigerian to showcase what he is all about.
 
MANAGER

The appointment of former Preston boss Irvine hardly set pulses racing at the Hawthorns, with the 56-year-old getting his chance a Premier League manager after his most recent job as Everton's academy boss.

Having been sacked by both Preston and Sheffield Wednesday during his time as a manager, Irvine has plenty to prove to the West Brom faithful and a solid start will likely be paramount.

Fixtures against the likes of Sunderland, Swansea and Burnley are all, on paper, realistically winnable matches but failure to get points on the board early on and the pressure will undoubtedly grow from the terraces.

Irvine has done little to suggest the Baggies are on the up with him now at the helm, though, telling the club's official website that he has inherited "a lot of problems" from what was a difficult 2013-14 campaign.

He said: "We've had a very disrupted pre-season, there is no question about that. But it's a club that had a lot of problems last season.

"My appointment didn't change a whole load of that – that's where we are just now. I can't affect any of that. All I can do is work as hard as possible and hopefully we’ll get the right results.

"Hopefully we'll get all the players back and we’ll get them all gelled together and go from there."

Will he sink or swim in the Premier League? Only time, and most importantly results, will tell...

A GOOD 2014-15 WOULD BE...

The Baggies's primary aim will undoubtedly be to steer clear of relegation - if they can do that, the 2014-15 campaign will most certainly be a success for them.

 
WEST BROM ODDS FOR 2014-15
(From William Hill)
Title 5000/1
Top four 500/1
Relegation 5/2
After avoiding dropping down a division by the skin of their teeth under former boss Mel, West Brom fans will be grateful for a far less nervy campaign this time around but with a lack of top-class talent in their squad it will most likely be an uphill battle.

New manager Irvine is inexperienced at the highest level in English football and that could well count against him as he faces up to what is likely to be a battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Crystal Palace and Sunderland proved last season that 'unfancied' teams that may not be be blessed with the league's top stars can still make their mark and who is to say West Brom can't have a similarly productive season should things click into place for Irvine and his side.

Get Adobe Flash player

Related

From the web