Where must Slaven Bilic’s West Brom strengthen this summer?

As Slaven Bilic was unveiled in front of the media for the first time as manager of West Brom last week, technical director Luke Dowling gave an insight into what to expect from Albion in the summer transfer window.

His first revelation was that Albion would have a kitty to spend whilst uttering that the club also wanted to unearth gems again.

But things probably won’t be that simple for the Baggies this summer.

After all, they’ve already suffered a setback with Dwight Gayle and are left staring at the possibility of losing as many as five players because of financial restrictions.

To hear that the Baggies are keen on spending, therefore, was perhaps a surprise.

Selling Salomon Rondon appears to be high on their list of priorities and after rejecting a £10m bid from West Ham for his services, they’ll surely be hoping for something closer to his £16.5m release clause.

But in terms of incomings, where does Bilic need to strengthen in order to give his side the best possible chance of achieving promotion?

Addressing the defence

Mission number one will be fixing the defence. On paper, a combination of Ahmed Hegazi and Craig Dawson looks to be solid but with the latter potentially on his way out of the Hawthorns, huge improvement will be needed.

This is an Albion team that conceded 62 goals last season, the most of any side in the play-offs.

To further put things into perspective, Millwall, who finished in 21st, conceded just two more goals. As a result, they simply have to add bodies to their defence.

The Baggies scored plenty of goals in 2018/19 but they also leaked them and had they had better organisation and discipline, they may well have gone up.

Bilic’s experience compared to Darren Moore should certainly help in this regard, but it can’t be guaranteed that they’ll get better.

In terms of defensive recruitment, they’ve already been linked with switches for Reece Oxford and Carl Jenkinson, but you sense greater experience of the Championship may be required if they’re to seriously improve.

This will be a big test for Bilic, who at West Ham predominantly kept the same defence that he inherited. On that evidence he may well favour an attacking side.

Finding wingers

Well, where do we start with Albion’s lacklustre wingers in 2018/19?

The club’s work to bring in Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero in January was quite frankly terrible and they were anything but a success, finding the net just three times as a collective.

Matt Phillips occasionally provided a spark but ended up injured and then played in central midfield. Therefore, is it any surprise that they ended up playing with wing-backs? Arguably not.

Albion netted the second highest number of goals in the division last season, scoring 87 – a tally only topped by champions Norwich.

But it was a lack of creativity in the back end of the season after Harvey Barnes left that cost them considerably.

He was their star man throughout the first half of the term, scoring nine goals and assisting six but failing to replace him was their downfall.

With that in mind, finding players in the transfer market who can beat a man and inject some life into proceedings could be the answer.

Anyone for Oliver Burke?

Replacing Gayle

Dwight Gayle celebrates for West Brom

Next season Albion will be missing Gayle and they could also possibly be without Jay Rodriguez.

Seeing both of them in opposition colours next season would likely have supporters crying in their sleep.

Had it not been for their 46 strikes in the Championship, West Brom would have struggled to reach the play-offs.

Rodriguez hasn’t left yet, though, so there is still hope. Yet, finding someone who can make up for Gayle’s goals is just as important as addressing the defence.

The Newcastle loanee established himself as one of the star strikers in the Championship last term and it’s unlikely to be easy to find someone of a similar ilk.

Watch fans explain why the Football League is better than the Premier League in the video below…

At the end of the day, goals win you football matches, and without Gayle they’ll find life far tougher. That’s especially if they don’t strengthen their creative outlets as well.

Just how much West Brom have to spend this summer is unknown, but if they are to launch another attack on the play-offs and beyond next term, the three areas above will need to be improved.

Bilic certainly has a job on his hands, but with the backing of Luke Dowling and company, there is reason to be optimistic.

Article title: Where must Slaven Bilic’s West Brom strengthen this summer?

Please leave feedback to help us improve the site: