Promoted teams in profile: West Bromwich Albion

By SFC Media time Mon 24 Aug First team
Photo by Getty Images | West Bromwich Albion

Our look at the three promoted clubs continues as we cast an eye over Championship runners-up, West Bromwich Albion.

The Baggies had never needed more than two attempts to win promotion back to the top flight after their three previous relegations from the Premier League, and they maintained that impressive ability to bounce back in 2019/20.

After losing out to west Midlands rivals Aston Villa in the 2018/19 play-offs, Albion showed a statement of intent with the appointment of former West Ham and Croatia boss Slaven Bilić last summer.

Recruiting Romaine Sawyers from promotion rivals Brentford, along with influential loan trio Matheus Pereira, Filip Krovinović and Grady Diangana, gave Bilić a squad to be reckoned with, and he duly led West Brom to the Championship summit with a nine-match unbeaten start.

Albion never left the top two from early October through to the season’s end, despite coming under heavy pressure from Brentford post-lockdown.

Whilst their run-in was far from convincing, failing to win any of their last four matches, West Brom did enough to earn their place back in the big time after a two-year absence.

READING, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Matheus Pereira of West Bromwich Albion celebrates victory during the Sky Bet Championship match between Reading and West Bromwich Albion at Madejski Stadium on February 12, 2020 in Reading, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Player of the Year Matheus Pereira recently had his loan move made permanent

The boss

A former Premier League player, Bilić was a central defender who represented West Ham and Everton in the late 90s, and a World Cup semi-finalist who racked up 44 caps for his country.

Starting management in his 30s, he took charge of Hajduk Split and Croatia Under-21s, before taking the senior job in 2006.

Bilić was credited with bringing back the excitement to the national team, promoting his star players from the Under-21s into the senior squad, including Luka Modrić, Eduardo and Vedran Ćorluka, and masterminding Croatia’s qualification for Euro 2008 at England’s expense, doing the double over the Three Lions.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:   Slaven Bilic, Manager of West Bromwich Albion  looks on before the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest at The Hawthorns on February 15, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Head coach Slaven Bilić is often an animated presence on the touchline

Only a penalty shoot-out defeat to Turkey, who equalised in the last minute of extra time, denied Bilić another major tournament semi-final, but he remains a popular figure in his homeland, helping to nurture many of the players who featured in the World Cup final against France in 2018.

After spells managing in Russia and Turkey, he returned to West Ham, leading the Hammers to their highest Premier League points tally and a seventh-place finish in his debut season – the club’s last at Upton Park.

The transition to the London Stadium and ensuing departure of star player Dimitri Payet made the job more difficult for Bilić, who departed in 2017, before coming back to England with West Brom after a brief stint in Saudi Arabia.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20:  Shane Long of West Brom celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge on August 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Shane Long celebrates scoring for West Brom at Stamford Bridge in 2011

Connections

-West Brom’s top scorer last season was Charlie Austin, whose 11 goals were influential in helping the Baggies win promotion. The striker hit 20 goals in 81 appearances for Saints before departing for The Hawthorns last summer.

-A popular former player with both clubs, Jay Rodriguez is another forward who made the same move as Austin back in 2017. The England international scored a combined 68 goals for both teams.

-The only current Saint with Albion ties is Shane Long, who spent two and a half seasons with the Baggies. Of his 55 Premier League goals, 46 have been scored in the colours of West Brom or Saints.

-Now a scorer of six Premier League free-kicks, James Ward-Prowse scored the first two of those against West Brom. The Saints skipper has only finished on the losing side once in nine meetings with the Baggies, registering three goals and two assists.

-Sofiane Boufal scored Saints’ 2017/18 Goal of the Season against the Baggies. A remarkable solo effort, the Moroccan’s masterpiece is considered one of the greatest ever scored at St Mary’s.

Head-to-head record

Played 79
Saints 31
Draws 24
West Brom 24

Last three meetings

Feb 2018: West Brom 1-2 Saints (FA Cup)
Feb 2018: West Brom 2-3 Saints (Premier League)
Oct 2017: Saints 1-0 West Brom (Premier League)

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