Ahead of the trip to the Hawthorns to take on the Baggies, it was a pleasure to catch up with our old pal Dan from Baggies Facts on their return to the Premier League, thoughts on the game and much more.
Q. Welcome back to the Premier League! The last campaign was quite an odd one as things go but how did you rate it from a West Brom perspective?
It was fantastic in terms of it’s sometimes nice to be a ‘bigger fish’ in a smaller pond. You do have some big wins and we had players that could excite at that level most weeks. Ultimately though, as much as I’m fed up with the levels of greed and money in the game, if Albion are to thrive, we need to be in the top flight, and so to do that in such a tough campaign was satisfying.
Q. How are fans feeling about the season ahead and what are the expectations?
Over a quarter of the season in and we have one win. That doesn’t tell the whole story though with so many background issues in terms of the clubs ownership and the shakeup that came with our Chief Executive stepping down in the summer. We have battled against it and come out with some positive shows against the bigger teams, a draw with Chelsea and a defeat away at Manchester United following about 12 incorrect VAR and ref decisions. God, VAR is s**t!
Q. How active were the Baggies in the transfer window and are there any areas that will need attention in January?
Active enough. However Krovinovic (another year loan), Robinson, Pereira and Diangana were all with us last season on loan, so in terms of year on year squad improvement, especially with being promoted it’s limited. Ivanovic is still a solid player. Grant will score goals, who knows yet how many though. My favourite signing has been Conor Gallagher on loan from Chelsea, would love to keep him.
Q. The pressure for newly promoted clubs to stay up is extremely high and most managers that get teams up rarely see out the season after promotion. Will that be the case for Slaven Bilic do you think?
I bloody well hope so. He did a fantastic job in getting us promoted. The team he managed last season still had plenty of flaws. He took over in 2019 with a two year plan for promotion and he managed it in one. The players clearly still back him and I feel the issues surrounding results this season will be rectified in the long term, and even if not, he deserves the chance to keep us up regardless, for me.
Q. We are keen to see young players coming through the ranks here at TEB so is there anyone that we should keep an eye on who could make the breakthrough into the West Brom first eleven?
He plays for you now! Joking aside, Ferguson is a cracking player, however the other youngster that replaced him at right back last season following his injury is my pick. Dara O’Shea came from pretty much nowhere, he is now considered as an option regularly and has four senior Ireland caps to his name. He’s extremely mature for his age on and off the pitch and that’s always a positive for young players these days.
Q. Let’s have some predictions from you for the season;
Premier League Champions – Spurs
Champions League spots – Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea
Relegated – Head wants to say Albion here but I’ll avoid doing that! Brighton (there’s only room for the proper Albion in the top flight!), Burnley, Sheffield United
Surprise package – Southampton
FA Cup – Marine
League Cup – Spurs
Q. A fully loaded question but what are your thoughts on the return of fans to games this season, pay-per-view, Project Big Picture and the European Premier League?
I was very vocal on my platforms regarding PPV especially being an Albion fan; ALL of our matches were on there – £60 over four games. Some supporters didn’t have to find that extra money. The mega rich clubs didn’t need this money. Especially seeing as we all know people who are literally having their lives torn apart by the s**tshow of 2020. Greed is everywhere and it’s hard to accept. The big clubs can form whatever league they like, I mean they do as they please anyway, don’t they?
Q. What do you make of Palace ahead of the new season?
Palace have players I’m very fond of. Finding a solid week-in-week out goalkeeper isn’t easy for the levels required in the Premier League, so I’m a fan of Guaita. Of course Wilfried Zaha has been scoring for fun this season. Eze is impressive, was hoping we could bag him, such a wriggly, skilful player. What’s the story with Benteke? Just not good enough?
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
Zaha and for us, watch out for Pereira this week, he was immense in our win against Sheffield United.
Q. …and finally, your all important prediction?