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Topics - Baggies

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West Bromwich Albion FC / 2021-2022 season predictions
« on: Yesterday at 09:27:47 PM »
It’s probably not the best day to ask this question, but putting emotion to one side for the time being, what are your expectations and predictions for the coming season?

My own:

Albion will have a decent season, but will end up finishing between 3rd and 5th. I don’t think we will lose many - possibly in the top 2 for least games lost, but Sheff Utd and Fulham will get top two, while we struggle to score enough goals to win consistently.

I think our player of the season will be between Grady Diangana or Alex Mowatt. Provided Diangana stays fit, he will be a major headache for most sides and might end up with the most goal contributions (goals/assists combined) in the division.

As I’ve touched on, I think we will struggle for goals this season. We have a strong defence and defensive midfield, plus a good defensive style with Ismael. Going forward however we lack much creative spark behind the front 3 and we don’t have a natural centre forward at this point.

On that goals subject, I’m going out on a limb (of sorts) and saying Karlan Grant continues to struggle for goals. He will possibly keep his place through hard work, and will get some penalties here and there, but I think he will have a Charlie Austin style season and only really get to about 10 goals overall.

Finally, I think we will get a decent cup upset this season, or at least provide some entertainment. Our high octane style will come up against a decent prem side and we will feature in a game that ends up being lauded by the pundits. Bielsa v Ismael maybe?

General Football & Sports / Tokyo Olympics 2021
« on: July 21, 2021, 08:27:37 AM »
While the Olympics doesn’t officially start until Friday, the football tournament had now started.

If you are free, the BBC are now showing GBR v Chile in the Women’s football. Could be interesting.

West Bromwich Albion FC / League Cup 2021/2022
« on: June 24, 2021, 03:41:42 PM »

For those who are interested, here is the link for the 1st round draw that is on now

West Bromwich Albion FC / Player of the season 2020/2021
« on: May 05, 2021, 12:31:28 PM »
I wasn’t sure if this sort of chat should be left until next week when we will likely be down, but it’s something more positive to talk about so why not.

For me it is down to 2 players - Pereira and Johnstone - with an honourable mention for Yokuslu.

Pereira has been our best outfielder this season. Even when he was off the boil he has still contributed goals and assists. Had we been better finishers, Pereira’s assists stats would be even healthier and he has been great to watch in full flow.

For me though, Sam Johnstone gets the nod. He has been far improved on the last 2 years and while I think he could easily flop next season at a new club, the character he has shown in coming back from a lot of criticism (some sent directly to him on social media), deserves credit, so he gets a Ronnie Wallwork style nod from me.

On the back of the circus these last few days, it got me thinking, if you were supreme leader of World Football, what changes would you make to the game?

A couple from me:

Players international qualification - I see no reason why a player who had played for England or France and who no longer gets picked, shouldn't be able to then go on to represent another county they may qualify for (like in Rugby League). Players like Fikayo Tomori for example faces an uncertain future with England, however he is locked in thanks to the 1 cap 2 years ago. Why shouldn't he be allowed to play for Canada or Nigeria if he can't get a game for us? Raheem Sterling is coming off the back of a poor season and despite being only 26, it's possible with players like Sancho, Foden, Greenwood, Rashford and Bellingham coming through that he might be sidelined by the time Qatar 2022 comes around. Why shouldn't he be allowed the option of finishing his career for Jamaica? Nationality is a complex thing in this day and age. When the "next Neymar" Jamal Musiala declared for Germany (over us, The USA and Nigeria), he spoke of how difficult it was to pick between the land of his birth and the land he sees as home (us). Why shouldn't he be allowed to switch half way through.

I'd make a rule to say that if you have not played for a nation for 2 years and you qualify via ancestry/birth, you are allowed to switch nationalities. I would however have control measures to say players from smaller nations cant go to bigger ones and maybe say you can only go from a top 20 ranked nation to one lower down the rankings.

VAR - Instead of reviewing every decision, make it like cricket. The only decisions that are reviewed are those that are flagged by either the manager or the captain. Each team gets 1 review and if they get it right, they keep it. It would stop the constant reviews and puts the onus on the teams to make their calls correctly. If you lose your review, you only have yourself to blame.

If you had said to me last Friday that I might see Albion in Europe this decade, I'd have laughed at you, but one of the consequences of last night's depressing announcement is that, depending on how everything falls, we may well have a more than decent chance of qualifying at the very least for the third tier competition at some point in the next few years.

So I ask, if we were to qualify, how likely would you be to go away with Albion to a European game? Would you, if push come to shove, fork out on the city break and the tickets?

Also, if we were to qualify, which sort of games would you be looking to go for? Would you want one of the Southern European cities with the great weather and laid back holiday vibe or would you instead be opting for the northern European cities with great bars and pubs?

I think I would have to go to watch Albion play if we did qualify, but I'm not sure which destination I'd be hoping for the most.

General Football & Sports / The big sports thread
« on: April 06, 2021, 06:50:43 AM »
I toyed with the idea of making a "general sports" thread a few weeks ago as a bit of a dumping ground for those smaller events that wouldn't get their own thread (like Lee Westwood's consecutive 2nd place finishes a few weeks ago or the Irish Grand National yesterday where the winner was a 150-1 shot).

So this thread will hopefully do that.

For those that are interested, Jimmy White yet again failed last night to beat Stephen Hendry in a world championship game in what was almost certainly his last chance. He lost in what was by all accounts a deathly boring qualifier on Eurosport.

General Football & Sports / The Masters 2021
« on: April 06, 2021, 06:44:33 AM »
The 2021 Masters takes place this weekend, not that many months after the delayed 2020 edition. One of the best sporting weekends of the year.

I usually have a few bets but won't do that with the bookies closed this year so what's everyone's predictions?

General Football & Sports / 20’s sporting predictions
« on: December 31, 2020, 12:15:16 AM »
Technically we entered the twenties last January, but it seems a few organisations are treating this year as the end of the last decade, so with that in mind, what are your predictions for sport this decade?


England men’s football will reach a major tournament final

France rugby will win the Rugby World Cup

The Champions league will become a mid week European super league, with domestic qualification replaced by a hybrid system where the top sides guarantee themselves automatic entry

Team GB will have a disappointing Tokyo olympics and then slip back down the medal tables for the rest of the decade, no longer reaching the highs of the last 2 games

One of Villa or Wolves will win a National or European trophy

The USA will dominate the Ryder cup for the first decade since the 90’s

By the end of the decade, North American international football (soccer) nations  will be performing as well as the top South American sides, with the USA reaching a semi final.

West Bromwich Albion FC / Summer transfer window 2020 review
« on: October 17, 2020, 09:35:59 AM »
So with the window finally closed (albeit with us awaiting the Grosicki transfer decision), how does everyone rate our business this year?

It's definitely been a different window this year, with CoVID uncertainty and lots of clubs feeling out the changed market.

On our part, it seemed to come down to a "phase 1, phase 2" strategy. A lot of time (and money) was dedicated to rebuilding the team that hobbled over the line last season. Robinson didn't set the world alight during his loan move and yet we were really focussed on signing him back up. The deal we eventually struck was a decent one for a player who Sheff Utd bought for £7m last season, but the jury remains out whether he adds much to the team. Diangana returned, maybe unexpectedly. While i love him and love the signing in isolation, there are question marks over whether we should have spent such a large chunk of our transfer budget on him knowing we had gaps in so many other parts of the squad. Krovinovic eventually returned on loan, which considering Benfica's asking price is probably the right deal. He is another who didn't really do enough to justify a second season, but Bilic really wanted him which puts the club in a difficult position and with a second season here he might yet adapt well (Benfica fans rate him highly from his ore injury form there).

On to the new signings. We have failed to bring in a left back or a defensive/holding midfielder. Part of that will be down to Bilic wanting to prioritse other areas, but holding midfield continues to be a huge weak point thay nobody at the club seems to want to do anything with while we will probably have to field Townsend for large parts of the season at left back which really is a weak point.

We failed to land 3 key targets in Duffy, Grbic or Eze. I don't really blame the club on any of those but it is still a blow. Eze was replaced by Diangana which is the next best thing anyway. Grbic was eventually replaced by a 31 year old David Button, who you would imagine will be a place holder while we assess Palmer and Griffiths (i'd argue that's understandable). Duffy was probably the most disappointing of the lot. His replacement seems to have been bungled a bit really. Kipre was signed because he became available at a low price, rather than being somebody I think Dowling really believed was the answer. Bilic clearly didn't want him and was slightly unprofessional in saying as much to the media. To appease him, the club sanctioned Bilic bringing in a 36 year old Branislav Ivanovic, somebody Chelsea decided 2 or 3 years ago had become too slow for English football. Bilic is right, from what i've seen on twitter Zenit fans have loved "their captain", but it's going to be a huge ask for him to be at the required standard for us. It isn't often an old centre half does well in the premier league. We desperately needed a top centre back to partner Ajayi/Hegazi/OShea, but instead we have 2 real gambles.

Of the rest, Connor Gallagher has been a long term target. He had a great season last year and will I believe be a good signing, but unsure if he does enough to address our unbalanced midfield. Finally, we spent £14-£15m on Karlan Grant. Grant can score goals and was probably the best domestic option available to us, but when Habib Diallo goes for £9-£10m having scored double figures in the French top flight, you do see the flaws of Dowling's obsession with the near domestic market only policy.

Do these signings improve our first team? I think Grant does, although there will be potential balance issues signing 3 left sided attackers who like to occupy the same areas (Grant, Robinson and Diangana). I also believe Gallagher is an upgrade on Sawyers and Krov so he might help us on the counter attack and give us more bite. After that? I'm unconvinced we have improved an already flawed team enough to stay up in this difficult division.

At the risk of this post becoming an essay, I do think in addition to Dowling's lack of a foreign recruitment network, there is also a short termism that is evident in his approach. He has spoken before about not being scared to sell players as we can go out an replace them and I worry he takes every season one at a time, rather than thinking long term. Lots of clubs, reacting to increasingly inflated transfer fees, now try to sign players up young as investments. It has helped Watford this summer, while Brighton, Wolves, Villa, Leeds and even Burnley have all done the same this window. Once again, Dowling's Albion show no such intent. If we go down this season, i'm not too sure where the improvements are on last seasons team. Krov and Gallagher will be back at their parent clubs, Ivanovic will be 37, half our team will be in their 30's and the only obvious upgrade will be a notoriously twitchy Karlan Grant. Dowling said last season that we should only be focussing on players who can get us out of the championship and not thinking long term,  but that policy then meant we spent all summer trying to rebuild our loan army while we have been furiously trying to sell 3 players in Zohore, Austin and Grosicki who only arrived last season for around £12-£13m. At what point does Dowling start thinking in the long term?

One ray of light has been the approach to loaning out academy players. We have finally understood the importance of getting our brightest players out on loan to ready them for life with our first team. It has worked for Edwards and O'Shea so there can be optimism that next season, somebody like Palmer, Griffiths, Morton, Windsor, Tulloch, Soule, Azaz, Shotton or Clayton-Phillips might be like a new signing for us (fingers crossed Morton, Clayton-Phillips and Tulloch return from their injuries quickly, I did read yesterday that the latter's hamstring injury is worse than first thought which is another huge blow). My only disappointment with the loan policy is that arguably the crown jewel of our under 23 players - Rakeem Harper - didn't get the loan move he desperately needed.  He now sits as our 7th choice central midfielder and the only way he gets game time from this point forward is if we have a CoVID outbreak.  We should really have been brave and given him a full season at a Barnsley, Luton or Coventry. He is the most likely of any of our under 23's to have been a first teamer next season.

So, overall I can't really say I see this as a successful window. It was a tough one for the club but I don't think we have done enough in the short term to keep us up this year, or the long term in seeing us return to the championship with a better team than the one that came up. We don't make our lives easier and won't until we plan longer term and build atleast a basic foreign scouting network.

West Bromwich Albion FC / WBA agree analytics partnership with twenty3
« on: September 14, 2020, 05:57:10 PM »

The above doesn’t give much details and I would suggest this is more geared at match day analysis than signings, but it does have a passing mention to recruitment.

West Bromwich Albion FC / League cup 2020-21
« on: September 06, 2020, 02:54:12 PM »
A first ever competetive game vs Harrogate Town confirmed for the second round next week.

We then play the winners of Brentford/Southampton in the third round if we get through.

West Bromwich Albion FC / Playoffs
« on: July 17, 2020, 07:28:38 PM »
So, as it becomes clear what we have to do, what chances do we have in the play offs.

We have been atrocious for months now, but nine of our rivals have been great.

I expect to lose vs Cardiff, but equally Foreat have been rubbish for a while too.

Fulham are my tip. Can Bilic find a way to stop the inevitable?

West Bromwich Albion FC / Community shield
« on: July 08, 2020, 09:59:02 PM »
With the FA cup being delayed, the times are reporting this evening that talks are under way for the community shield to be Liverpool vs the winners of the Championship.

So.......who fancies a first community shield since 1968?

General Football & Sports / Football on TV during the pandemic
« on: May 08, 2020, 10:13:46 AM »
As things seem to be speeding up, I thought I’d create a thread on football available to watch on TV during the pandemic. Feel free to update with anything you find.

At 1050 today on the BBC Red button and the IPlayer, the BBC are showing the reopening of the South Korean football league Jeonbuk Motors vs Suwon Blue Wings.

West Bromwich Albion FC / Championship finances 2018/2019
« on: May 06, 2020, 12:29:20 PM »

This is nearly a month old now, but I’ve only just clocked it today. Kieran Maguire who runs the “price of football” twitter account (alon with the Swiss ramble, 2 of the best authorities in football finance around).

The table shows the Championship’s finance picture from last season. Quite pertinent in light of the talk around parachute payments. It turns out that we were the club with the highest revenue in the whole of the championship. That then has helped us to come out as the third lowest wage to income percentage ratio in the league, suggesting we are fairly safe financially.

Villa on the other hand could have been in very sticky waters had they lost in the playoffs. Eye watering.

General Football & Sports / Steven Gerrard
« on: April 30, 2020, 11:24:16 AM »
I've had a few conversations (mainly online) in recent weeks about Steven Gerrard and I think i'm in the minority in my belief that despite being good, there are midfieders in the last 20 years who have been comfortably better.

My own view is that he has a great engine, he could drive a team forward, he could score goals and he was versatile, however he played for one club side his whole career who played to his strengths and built teams around him. He played lots of hollywood passes but I don't believe his game was suited to breaking down stubborn, compact defences, as tight, intricate passing wasn't really part of his game.

You saw this play out when he was with England, where he looked distinctly average for most games he played, even if it was a very unbalanced midfield when he was with Lampard/Beckham/Scholes. His over reliance on long passes was shown up when playing for England and not having the foreign players around him who could do more of the intricate, patient build up work.

As I say, I think i'm in the minority as people seem to put a lot of emphasis on his versatility, saying he played most positions in his career, that he didn't have great players around him, and always pushing the "name a more complete midfielder" line, but I don't really think a jack of all trades, master of none is somebody i'd put in the top bracket.

It's all opinions I suppose.

General Football & Sports / Official Rugby League thread
« on: January 30, 2020, 08:55:44 AM »
I love this weekend. Not only does the six nations start, but tonight, we get the return of Super League.

Does anyone follow it on here?

St Helens have dominated for the last few years but Wigan and Warrington are expected to challenge them this season.

The 2 big stories though are Toronto Wolfpack from Canada, who were promoted last season starting their first ever season. They have signed Sonny Bill Williams, however most pundits tip them to finish bottom (potentially being replaced ny another French side - Tolouse Olympique - next year.

The other big story is that Catalan Dragons have finally made the move for Israel Folou. Nobody can deny he will potentially be the best player in super league, but how long can he keep his mouth shut about gay people burning in hell? I give it 4 months max.

General Football & Sports / Six Nations 2020 thread
« on: January 30, 2020, 08:50:11 AM »
The six nations returns this week, with what might be the most competetive tournament in ages.

We are coming off the back of a world cup final loss, but arguably the deepest player pool in Europe.

Wales and Ireland both have nee coaches so hard to tell what to expect from them.

Scotland have sent fly half Finn Russell home which isn't ideal preparation - it could give Italy a much needed boost as they can't keep finishing bottom if they want to win the argument for no promotion/relegation.

Finally, France might ne the surprise package. After being pretty awful for large parts of the last decade, lots of pundits are tipping them for the title this year. They havr a young squad of players who are being viewed as potential world cuo winners at some point,  so the first game this weekend vs England might be the game of the tournament.

West Bromwich Albion FC / FA Cup 3rd Round - Charlton Athletic (A)
« on: November 29, 2019, 10:45:40 PM »
The FA Cup 3rd round draw takes place Monday. I still love the third round draw. The excitement of who get to take on, even if it is in front of a reduced crowd.

I’d love another crack at Man Utd, while the likes of Liverpool and Villa would be good fun as well. Really don’t want Wolves as I feel our style plays in to their hands, but also want to avoid another Championship team.

Prem teams only please (or a non league side, why not).

General Football & Sports / Rugby World Cup 2019
« on: September 23, 2019, 01:52:09 PM »
Anybody watching the world cup?

Thought the France v Argentina and New Zealand v South Africa double header in Saturday were great.

Some decent games to come in next few days as well (Samoa v Russia could be interesting).

« on: August 16, 2019, 10:54:00 PM »
Sorry if there is already a thread for European football, however having searched I can’t find one.

La Liga and Bundesliga’s 2019-20 season’s started tonight. Barcelona lost to A.Bilbao in the dying minutes as 38 year old Aritz Aduriz, in his final season scored an over head kick.

Over in Germany, Union Berlin, who’s club colours I often see abroad, start their first season in the Bundesliga tomorrow. Really hope they can stay up as East German sides have struggled since the fall of the wall.

Bayern drew 2-2 vs Hertha Berlin tonight. Dode Lukebakio became only the third player to score 4 goals at the Allianz Arerna vs Bayern (not in the same game I should add).

Trivia time - Christiano Ronaldo was the second player to reach that “landmark”. Which WBA reject was the first?

West Bromwich Albion FC / The Athletic
« on: August 05, 2019, 07:29:48 AM »
For those who haven't been following the slow, drawn out "worst kept secret in sports journalism", US sports publication the Athletic are opening a subscription based website in the UK covering football. They have hired a large percentage of the biggest named sports writers in the country for their wider coverage, but they have also head hunted a number of the top local football corrospondents from the different regional papers.

Steve Madeley (ex Express and Star) has now joined them as their dedicated WBA corrospondent, so we have another journalist who we can follow for our Albion news.

West Bromwich Albion FC / Is the Hawthorns safe from Lai?
« on: June 28, 2019, 04:59:59 PM »
Totally conjecture of course, but I think it is something that needs raising in the current climate.

In the last 6 months, 3 championship promotion chasers have sold their grounds to their owners. Derby and Sheff Wed did it and now it has been revealed that, to beat a big FFP fine, Villa Park has been bought by Edens and Sawiris. It is also believed that 1 or 2 others have done it this season however it is not yet public knowledge which clubs they are.

It is a growing trend and the football league are now looking at their own rules, no doubt at their normal snails pace, and it does raise questions for how safe we are, given our own ownership and financial situation.

At this stage we seem to be financially stable, with us being in a position where we have players that we could sell to balance the books and with our bigger wage earners slowly leaving.

The worry however comes if Lai, wanting to recoup his investment by getting us back to the prem, decides to bank roll a promotion push by buying the stadium from us. If this fails, we are left with an absent owner and no ground.

Villa is the classic example, as, while Edens and Shawaris seem great owners based on that track record, it only takes a business fall out between them and things could get very ugly there.

I think as fans we need to be really aware of this growing trend and the danger it holds for us as a club.

Watching the Yanited - Leicester game and seeing how Leicester gave young Ben Chilwell at left back (to go with Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury in England's under 21 set up), its got me thinking about which club is the best in England at producing academy players.

Can't really look past Villa for me.

Steven Davis, Ciaran Clarke, Jonathan Hogg, Marc Albrighton and Gary Cahill all currently playing in the premier league (Daniel Sturridge also had 3 years there before moving to Coventry while Jordan Graham is still at Wolves....for now).

Jack Grealish coveted by Spurs all summer.

Their role call of championship registered players is huge as well.

Donacien at Ipswich, Johnson,  Robinson and Burke at Preston, Williams and Whittingham at Blackburn, Carruthers at Sheff Utd, both Gardeners at Birmingham, Barry and Myhill with us, Baker and Weimann at Bristol City, Lichaj at Hull, Bannan at Sheff Wed, and that's without naming the countless players in the MLS, Scotland, Netherlands and other foreign leagues.

For a team sitting outside of the almost industrial production at clubs like Man City and Chelsea, that is an incresibly impressive output.

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