West Brom Nationalist Challenge: Part Two

5 02 2007

The West Brom Nationalist Challenge documents my attempts to make Championship side West Bromwich Albion an English-only team while forcing our way into the Premiership and towards greater success. Part one examined the task ahead, and the second installment covers the pre-season friendlies and the first ten competitive games.

Pre-season was very encouraging, with victories coming against Ayr and St. Mirren(both 3-0), Hamburg and Brighton (both 4-1) and Tranmere (4-2). The squad was boosted with the eventual arrival of Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant for £325,000, while two Premiership youngsters joined us on loan to provide some worthy back up should our first teamers pick up any injuries. Striker Febian Brandy – foreign sounding name but nonetheless and Englishman – joined on a season long loan from Manchester United, and staying too until the end of the season is Middlesbrough’s defender Andrew Davies. With the season about to kick off, the squad is looking very strong. We have 23 first team players in the ranks, with one or two decent looking youngsters among the reserves and youth team. In order to free up some more money – particularly in the wages department – Russell Hoult was shipped out on a free transfer to Aberdeen, but in losing the 33 year old fourth choice goalkeeper, I have managed to save around ten grand a week. The only other player to leave us permanently was young Welsh midfielder Rob Davies, who joined Sutton United for £26k.

So at the start of the season, the first team squad looks as follows:-

English Players:
GK: Lee Grant
DRC: Andrew Davies (Loan)
DLC: Neil Clement
DL: Paul Robinson
DC: Curtis Davies
DC: Chris Perry
DR: Greg Halford
MLC: Darren Carter
MC: Richard Chaplow
MC: Ronnie Wallwork
AMRLC/FC: Andy Robinson
AMRL: Jonathan Greening
FC: Febian Brandy (Loan)
ST: Nathan Ellington
ST: Kevin Phillips
Foreign Players:
GK: Pascal Zuberbuhler
DRL: Martin Albrechtsen
DC: Paul McShane
MC: Nigel Quashie
AMRC: Zoltan Gera
AMRLC: Jason Koumas
AML/FC: Diomansy Kamara
ST: John Hartson

Clearly we have more English players in the first team squad that foreigners, which is encouraging. However, a lot of the players I consider to be key to the side are in the foreign list: Zuberbuhler, Gera, Koumas, Kamara and Hartson are all excellent players with plenty to offer still. Replacing these – in time – will be difficult, but should we win promotion this season I’m positive that given two years we can have an English only team that can match this talent.

August 2006:

August was a great month for the Baggies. Out of six games – including a league cup encounter with Notts County – we won five, drawing the other. The team is playing well as a unit, and we’re certainly having no trouble in finding the net. Nathan Ellington hit five goals in the first four games, while midfielders Jason Koumas and Zoltan Gera managed to score seven goals between them. At the end of the month, West Brom are top of the league, Ellington is top of the goalscoring charts, and a cracking clash looms ahead in the League Cup, with Aston Villa playing host to us in a Midland Derby.

Results:
Southend 1-2 West Brom
Crystal Palace 1-3 West Brom
West Brom 2-2 Q.P.R
West Brom 3-0 Ipswich
Notts County 0-2 West Brom (League Cup)
Leicester 0-5 West Brom

September 2006:

If August was a good month, then September was just as productive. The fine form continued with a same pattern as the previous few weeks: out of six games, we again won five, drawing the other. The most pleasing victory of all came in the League Cup, where a John Hartson penalty sent Premiership side Aston Villa crashing out of the competition, much to the delight of the Baggies fans. In the final game of the month, Andy Robinson grabbed his first (And second) goals for the club, with the midfielder proving that he can make the step up from League One football in style.

Results:
West Brom 3-1 Barnsley
West Brom 1-1 Preston
Luton 0-3 West Brom
West Brom 1-0 Plymouth
Aston Villa 0-1 West Brom (League Cup)
West Brom 3-1 Norwich

October 2006:

October was another good month for the club, although we did succumb to our first defeat. However, Andy Robinson continued to prove his worth to the team by bagging three more goals, and a 1-0 victory over Cardiff set’s the side up for a mouth watering fourth round Carling Cup tie with Premiership giants Newcastle United. By the end of the month, the table looked very encouraging for Baggies fans, with the side eight points clear of second place Leeds United and with a game in hand.

Results:
Birmingham City 1-3 West Brom
Stoke City 0-0 West Brom
West Brom 3-0 Burnley
Southampton 1-0 West Brom
West Brom 1-0 Cardiff (League Cup)
West Brom 2-0 Colchester United

With such a good start to the season, I’m very hopeful that we can make it into the Premiership. I’m not looking too far ahead in terms of the squad itself yet, although it’s clear that if we are to make it to the big league and stay their, we will need to learn from the sides previous mistakes and strengthen those weak areas that could lead to our downfall. Part Three, covering the rest of the year, will be online soon.

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6 02 2007
The Football Manager Community » FM Community Digest 06/02/2007

[…] The West Brom Nationalist Challenge Part Two […]

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