Following promotion back to the Premier League, Slaven Bilić’s Albion find themselves in a similar situation to the side that finished second under Roberto Di Matteo 10 years ago. This is what we can take from the last window we faced after promotion.
Albion made ten permanent signings during the summer transfer window of 2010, with the squad needing serious additions to provide the necessary quality for a battle against relegation.
The Baggies didn’t have endless finances to spend as Jeremy Peace ran the club in a sensible and low-risk fashion, therefore the role of now reputable technical director Dan Ashworth — who was then in charge of recruitment — was based around finding Premier League quality players at modest prices.
Once more we find ourselves in a position where we can’t afford to splash out on costly transfer fees due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the lack of financial support from owner Guochuan Lai.
The expectation is also similar for the two teams as neutral fans believed Albion would return to the Championship under Di Matteo, whilst a quick look at social media now shows the same is expected of Bilić’s men; he’ll be hoping we can replicate our 2010/11 finish of 11th.
The ten additions we made to the first team squad covered various areas of the pitch and filled key roles that the team required.
Two strikers were signed, in the form of Peter Odemwingie and Marc-Antoine Fortuné, with Somen Tchoyi also complementing Di Matteo’s attacking options.
Whilst the experienced Nicky Shorey, Boaz Myhill, Paul Scharner and Pablo Ibáñez were brought in to bolster a defence that conceded only five less than 21st placed Crystal Palace.
Steven Reid and Gabriel Tamaș also had their loan moves converted into permanent ones which is something that would be useful for the likes of Filip Krovinović and Grady Diangana if possible.
A young Craig Dawson was brought to the club, although he was sent straight back on loan to former club Rochdale.
All together £12.45m was spent on incomings; however, it would be ill-advised to compare the two budgets as the financial landscape of football has changed dramatically over the last decade.
So what positive aspects can we take from the 2010 window?
Finding a goalscorer
The biggest impact made by a new recruit that season was controversial Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie. Signed for an undisclosed fee (thought to be around £2.70m) from Lokomotiv Moscow, he scored 15 goals to ensure Albion retained their Premier League status for another season. Odemwingie went on to score another 15 goals for the club, becoming Albion’s record Premier League scorer in the process.
We all know what followed with regards to the QPR saga, albeit time has proven to be a healer with Odemwingie’s hero status seemingly restored with appearances at charity events and The Hawthorns alongside interaction with Baggies fans on social media.
There are also numerous aspects we can take and look to implement from the Odemwingie deal, especially as we are currently in the market for a prolific goalscorer. Firstly his goalscoring record proves that it’s by all means possible to sign a player for a small-scale fee who has the necessary quality to score goals in the top flight.
Cheap strikers are harder to come by as opposed to other positions with forwards usually demanding the biggest fees. Albion have been linked with various names from foreign leagues such as Domagoj Vida, Vedat Muriqi and Mohamed Simakan.
One common question raised when a player from abroad arrives in England is can they cut it in English Football with the extreme physicality and intensity?
Admittedly there have been many examples of players failing to adapt to the Premier League; however, Odemwingie is a perfect example that there can be gems in foreign divisions — on this occasion the Russian League — that can easily handle the step up.
Marc-Antoine Fortuné and Somen Tchoyi also experienced success in the Premier League after signing from leagues with a lower standard than the Premier League, although Pablo Ibáñez struggled to make an impact after signing from Spain.
Making the most of free transfers
With limited funds, all transfer types need to be considered, especially free transfers. And it appears that’s exactly what was done by the recruitment team ten years ago as Paul Scharner, Pablo Ibáñez and Steven Reid all joined the club on free transfers at the end of their contracts with other clubs — although the latter did spend two months at the club on loan prior to joining permanently.
Scharner and Reid both became fan favourites at The Hawthorns due to their hard work and professionalism which helped Albion establish themselves in the Premier League.
Reid still has close ties to those at the club, which was proven by his return at the back end of the 18/19 season to assist caretaker manager Jimmy Shan.
Scharner has also made returns to The Hawthorns in the past and has received warm receptions too whilst interacting with WBA fans on social media.
Ibáñez will certainly not go down as one of the best signings Albion have ever made, despite the fact he arrived with a reputation of playing at the highest level after partnering Carlos Puyol in defence throughout the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The club could still look at the profile the Spaniard arrived with and try to replicate that type of deal, someone who we know Bilić highly rates and admires is his fellow countryman and former Juventus star Mario Mandžukić who recently left Qatari side Al-Duhail.
Who knows if a deal could be struck? His wages would presumably be much higher than what Albion would be willing to pay. Although the lure of the Premier League is incredibly strong, especially for a player who has never tested himself in England.
Scharner and Reid were two additions that brought years of Premier League know-how and experience to the ranks which are key attributes when battling against relegation.
With Albion lowering their average age last summer and the departures of Gareth Barry and Chris Brunt scheduled ahead of the forthcoming season, the squad could certainly do with additional experience from players of that Scharner and Reid model.