Steve Clarke will be hoping for another solid season at the Hawthorns.
Manager’s job security: Pretty good for Steve Clarke, with the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant guiding West Bromwich Albion to a top 10 finish in the Scot’s first year at the club.
Unless West Brom get dragged into a relegation battle expect to see Clarke in the dug-out at the Hawthorns come the end of the season.
Captain: Chris Brunt.
Last season: 8th.
Players in: Nicolas Anelka (Juventus, free), Diego Lugano (PSG, free), Matej Vydra (Udinese, loan).
Players out: Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest, free), Marc-Antoine Fortune (Wigan, free), Jerome Thomas (Crystal Palace, free), Romaine Sawyers (Walsall, free), Shane Lewis (Walsall).
Aims: Despite being essentially run on a shoestring budget West Brom fans will want to see the Baggies try and achieve a top 10 finish again, although without Romelu Lukaku it could prove to be a struggle.
Clarke has been shrewd in the transfer market though by acquiring both Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra up front without parting with any money.
Key player: Youssouf Mulumbu – Alongside Claudio Yacob the central midfield pairing looked strong last season and controlled the middle of the park whilst the more creative players got forward.
At 26-years-old Mulumbu is now reaching the peak of his career in theory and could develop into a genuinely top-class box-to-box midfielder.
Needs to improve: Markus Rosenborg – It was lucky Lukaku was in such good form for the Baggies because Rosenborg had a shocker up top, failing to find the net in 27 appearances for the club.
Both Anelka and Vydra, along with Shane Long, will be ahead of the Swede in the pecking order, with the 30-year-old clearly finding the transition to English football difficult.
Big summer signing: Nicolas Anelka – Although the Frenchman didn’t cost the club any money the striker is proven in the Premier League having scored 123 goals for five different English clubs.
At 34-years-old Anelka isn’t going to be the lightning quick hit-man that football fans know of old, but the forward still has an eye for goal.
One to watch: Matej Vydra – The Czech Republic international was a sensation whilst on-loan with Watford last year, scoring 21 league goals and winning Championship Player of the Season.
Now it will be interesting to see if the 21-year-old can make the step up to the Premier League, but with bags full of energy and great technique, don’t be surprised if Vydra doesn’t continue to terrorise defences.
What do they need? Unfortunately, as mentioned, West Brom don’t have the finances to go out and spend big and Clarke has done a pretty good job in the transfer market with the resources the 50-year-old has.
A creative midfielder and some defensive recruitment would be nice but is unlikely so the Baggies will have to make do.
fanatix prediction: 14th – It won’t be quite the successful season West Brom enjoyed last year but nor will it be a fight to avoid the drop – steady as always.