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West Brom Preview

By: Richard Hubbert
Date: 17/08/2001

AFTER last week's epic first day win against Crewe at Blundell Park, we enter our traditional early season game with our good friends from Brummie land, WBA.

Home > 2001-2002 Season > Previews > West Brom (a)

The Manager

Gary Megson

There is no doubt that the Baggies boss Gary Megson has turned WBA around in the last year. When he was appointed back in March 2000 he was given the unenviable task of keeping a depleted side in the first division. He did this, avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth, with Black Country neighbours Walsall going down.

After some wheeling and dealing in the summer, Megson built a team that went on to secure a play off place in the Football League's elite division, only 12 months after nearly going down. This has established Megson as one of the Nationwide league's top managers, and has left the likes of Stoke and Stockport (teams who sacked Megson), eating their words for criticism of the former Norwich City centre half.

Now, after a pretty inactive summer, apart from the sale of star Lee Hughes, Megson will be hoping for a repeat of last seasons success and a chance of Premier League football at the Hawthorns.

Star Player

Jason Roberts

After the recent sale of hot shot Lee Hughes, WBA will now rely on Jason Roberts to come up with the goods and fire them up the division one table. The former Wolves and Bristol Rovers man was signed last summer by Gary Megson from Bristol Rovers for a £2 million fee, beating off division one rivals Portsmouth for his signature.

The quick and powerful forward was originally signed by Pirates manager Ian Holloway from Wolves for £200,000, filling the boots of Fulham striker Barry Hayles. After signing in 1998, Roberts scored a total of 38 goals in his time at the Memorial Ground, in particular in the 1999/2000 season when he and strike partner Jamie Cureton struck 44 goals between each other (22 each!).

Inevitably, they were both sold that season after failing to win promotion, and has kept up his scoring trend with a further 17 goals last season, forming a formidable partnership with the now departed Lee Hughes.

Now that the strike force is no more, WBA will hope that Roberts, along with fellow strikers Scott Dobie and Bob Taylor will get the goals that they will need, in order to fill the boots of Coventry man Lee Hughes. But it will be Dobie and Taylor that will start for WBA tomorrow, as Roberts is unfortunately injured.

Past Positions


2000/2001 Season16thDivision 1
1999/2000 Season10thDivision 1
1998/1999 Season12thDivision 1
1997/1998 Season21stDivision 1
1996/1997 Season6thDivision 1

Past Meetings

Well, which game would you like? Recent meetings between the Baggies and Town have been heated and full of excitement, all for one reason. Alan Buckley. After storming out of Town in 1994, taking his backroom staff and half of Towns team with him, everybody looked forward to the return of Buckley and co. After loosing the first battle 2-0 in the 1994/95 season, Town wanted revenge and got it the next season with one of THE most exciting games at Blundell Park for years.

With 4 ex-Town players in their line up, everything was set up for a bruising encounter. It was. First of all manager Brian Laws (playing at right back) nearly kicked Dave Gilbert into the John Smiths, while Shaun Cunnington was being run down in midfield by his successor Paul Groves, in goal, ex stopper Paul Reece was being bombarded with shots from everywhere with Livvo and Jamie Forrester tearing current Town centre half Paul Raven, apart. While up front, Welshman Tony Rees was doing nothing, because he couldn't get near the ball.

If ever there was a 1-0 thrashing, this was it. Shot after shot, Town failed to score, and by the time it got to half time, Town fans were wondering if we would ever score. Then came along the little Italian by the name of Ivano Bonetti. As a cross from Gary Childs looped through the air, Bonetti hit the sweetest volley into the bottom corner, sending Town fans into delirium. After the game everyone thought Bonetti had played his last for the Mariners, Town not being able to afford the £250,000 transfer fee. But after a plea to supporters and local business, the money was raised and Bonetti stayed.

This was just the first chapter of a series of results against WBA. Following that WBA got revenge at the Hawthorns, winning 3-1. The next season was the last game Buckley would visit Blundell Park as an opposing manager. The game ended 1-1 with the return fixture a 2-0 win for Baggies. After Towns relegation and Buckley's Grimsby return, the sides met again, with Towns team sheet full of ex WBA players. Two of them got on the scoresheet in a terrific 5-1 win, that was described by ex WBA winger David Smith as "sweet revenge".

After that came two successive draws between the sides, but the spice in the fixture had dried up. Fortunately for Town the wins haven't dried up. Last season Town did the double over WBA with a 2-0 win at Blundell Park and a 1-0 win at the Hawthorns, courtesy of a Luke Cornwall goal.

WBA Head-to-Head (77th on The Opposition Ladder).

Hopes For This Season

After the sale of striker Lee Hughes to local neighbours Coventry for £5 million there seems to be an air of uncertainty surrounding both the ambition and the future of WBA this season. Despite having quality strikers at their disposal still, there is not a great quantity of them, and a striker will be top of Gary Megson's agenda.

If a 20 goal striker can be bought, WBA will again be hovering around the play-offs. But this depends on the rest of the team. Indeed this could be where the problem lies. Especially in defence where boss Gary Megson believes the problem lies. This was made public last week when the team crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Walsall. After this early defeat, a seemingly wobbly defence and the sale of Hughes, perhaps the best WBA can hope for is mid table, and avoidance of any relegation battle.


This summer has seen a spree of ins and outs over near the Railway. Six new players have signed and five players have departed. Three of the new signings (Richardson, Navarro and Brammer) only signed in the last few days.

Scott Dobie £160,000 from Carlisle
Warren Cummings loan from Chelsea
Richard SneekesReleased
Matt CarbonFree to Walsall
Lee Hughes£5 million to Coventry
Jason Van BlerkFree to Stockport
Daryll BurgessFree to Northampton

Visitors Injury List

Striker Jason Roberts will be ruled out of the clash, leaving Bob Taylor and Scott Dobie the only fit forwards on the books, meaning they pick themselves for the forward positions. Elsewhere the Baggies are injury free and have the following squad to choose from:

West Brom: Hoult, Butler, Gilchrist, Sigurdsson, Balis, Appleton, McInnes, Jordao, Clement, Taylor, Dobie, Jensen, Fox, Cummings, Quinn, Adam Chambers

Lennie's Teamtalk

"OK Lads, we'll have to play with 10 men I'm afraid! So, defend, defend and defend. "

Prediction For Game

The pressure will be on WBA to come up with the goods after a first day defeat, and after the sale of Lee Hughes it could be said that WBA should prove easier to beat. But with last season's defeats against Town at the back of their minds, the West Midlanders will want a win, as will Town. However with Grimsby having only 10 fit senior players available, Town will find it hard to break WBA down. Since it's only the second game, and being an optimist, I'll go for a 1-1 draw (again)!

Fishy prediction: 1-1 Honours Even


Click on the link for directions to The Hawthorns.

West Brom's Preview

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