It’s been a frustrating few years for West Bromwich Albion, with the high of winning promotion from the Championship in 2019/20 being drowned out by Premier League relegations in both 2017/18 and 2020/21.
Their inability to remain a constant force in the top-flight of English football is down to many factors, although poor recruitment has been a near-constant underlining factor for many seasons now.
Underwhelming purchases such as Kenneth Zohore, Oliver Burke and Grzegorz Krychowiak have contributed to their recent decline, but their is now a new regime at the helm of the Hawthorns.
Former Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael took charge of the Midlands outfit over the summer after guiding the Terriers into the play-offs following a fifth-placed finish – their best since 1999/2000.
And the French-German tactician brought one of his star performers from Oakwell with him to West Brom in the shape of Alex Mowatt, changing the club’s luck in the transfer market as a result.
The 26-year-old midfielder arrived on a free transfer after his contract expired with Barnsley, and he’s finally showing his true ability on a consistent basis for Albion after it seemed likely he’d never reach his potential for so long.
Mowatt burst onto the scene at boyhood club Leeds United as an exciting teenager, bagging ten goals and providing six assists in his first two campaigns as a Championship player.
The former England U20 international became renowned for his long-range strikes and attacking threat, earning praise from several impressed onlookers, including former manager Steve Evans.
“I couldn’t have painted a better picture, and it opened up to a special young man who’s once again scored a special goal. It was a stunning strike, but he does it in training most days,” Evans said after Mowatt’s fierce strike helped to see off Huddersfield back in 2015.
“It’s not just his two goals but his all-round play. (There were) periods in the second half when he kept the ball and worked hard and was smart, and it makes the babies like him and (Lewis) Cook very special.”
However, his subsequent two seasons yielded just three league goals, albeit with the same amount of assists to his name, leading to Mowatt dropping down a division after signing for Barnsley.
But under Ismael, he’s resurrected his career and is producing the kind of displays week in week out that he threatened to do during his breakout years.
Since the beginning of 2020/21, Mowatt has notched up 19 goal contributions in 55 second-tier fixtures, playing a pivotal part in the success of both Barnsley and West Brom.
His outstanding form has seen his market value rise to £6.3m, proving West Brom struck gold by signing the midfield maestro over the summer.