This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking to Football Insider, Noel Whelan has given his thoughts on West Brom ahead of the upcoming season, hinting they may well be an easier opponent to face.
West Brom’s summer has only really kicked into gear over the last fortnight.
The early stages were dominated by the lack of a manager before Slaven Bilic finally walked through the door but it took a while for the club to get their act in gear in regards to transfers.
So far they’ve welcomed five new faces to the club, four of which were permanent deals.
Most recently Romaine Sawyers arrived from Brentford but they have faced tough losses in terms of outgoings.
And it’s due to that reason that pundit Whelan thinks opposing teams will travel to the Hawthorns in 2018/19 with far greater hopes. He told Football Insider:
“You know they’ll have quality, they’ll have experience still as well.
“They’ve lost two players in Gayle, he was on loan, he is a big loss. Jay Rodriguez, a huge loss because he was their talisman last year. It gives people a little bit more hope when they go to the Hawthorns and when they play against them.”
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West Brom still have plenty of quality in their squad and that’s been enhanced specifically by the signings of Semi Ajayi who scored seven times last term and Sawyers who helped himself to six assists.
However, the fact of the matter is that Albion haven’t replaced Dwight Gayle or Jay Rodriguez and that could indeed prove telling.
Between them last season, they scored 46 goals in the league which will be incredibly difficult to replace. They were a force to be reckoned with and made visiting the Baggies a daunting task.
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Goals win you football matches but having only recruited Kenneth Zohore in forward areas they may struggle. The Dane scored just once for Cardiff in the Premier League so it’s unlikely Bilic’s men will find things as easy.
They now arguably have greater options in midfield but they’ve suffered colossal losses in the final third and that may well have the biggest say in terms of where they finish this season.