Tag Archives: West Bromwich Albion

Premier League Files: Jonas Olsson

Premier League Career: West Bromwich Albion (2008-2017)

Having appeared 245 times for West Bromwich Albion, Jonas Olsson returned home to Sweden in 2017 to conclude his career with Djurgardens IF. It is a career that has seen Olsson experience the pain of relegation in his first Premier League season to becoming a stable figure as the Albion became a regular figure in the Premier League fixture schedules. He also won 25 caps for Sweden and was part of their squad at the 2012 European Championships.

Olsson made his debut in professional football in 2003. Growing up, he followed the career closely of his future international colleague and fellow defender, Olof Mellberg. Mellberg would become a popular figure at Aston Villa – a long-time Midlands rival of West Brom. Olsson developed his reputation as a tough-tackling defender during three seasons in the Dutch league with NEC Nijmegen.

Several Premier League clubs had been scouting Olsson and he was linked with moves to Bolton Wanderers, Everton and Newcastle United. However, it was West Brom who got his signature on a contract in August 2008, paying a mere £800,000 for his services. He made his debut in a 3-2 home win over West Ham United a month later and soon afterwards, had his first Baggies’ goal with a typical header from a set-piece enough to beat Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium. He added another goal in a home win over Sunderland towards the end of the campaign and played well individually throughout the season. However, West Brom were always fighting a losing relegation battle under their manager, Tony Mowbray and their demise to the Championship was confirmed by a defeat at home to Liverpool FC on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Rather than be tempted to quit The Hawthorns for another top-flight experience, Jonas stayed firmly loyal to the club. His family had settled in the area and to prove this, he signed a four-year contract extension in September 2009. He helped the club win instant promotion back to the Premier League in 2009-2010 with four goals, including a double in a win over Doncaster Rovers. West Brom were now a much more stubborn force on their return and Olsson would then feature in the next seven Premier League campaigns. He figured regularly for all West Brom’s Premier League managers including rookie boss Steve Clarke and the experienced Tony Pulis.

Olsson formed a combative and strong partnership at centre-back with Gareth McAuley when the experienced Northern Ireland international joined from Ipswich Town on a free transfer in 2011. Together, they became two of the most feared defensive players in attacking set-pieces. In fact, in only one full campaign did Olsson fail to score during his Premier League career (2012-2013).

With stiffer competition for places in the West Brom line-up in 2016-2017, Olsson and the club agreed to terminate his contract in March 2017. He’d made just seven appearances in one of the club’s most successful Premier League campaigns and this freed him up to join Djurgardens IF back in Sweden. This meant he linked up with fellow ex-Premier League players and compatriots Andreas Isaksson and Kim Kallstrom.

He has already featured 22 times for Djurgardens IF as he winds down an impressive career. Olsson has stated that once he is done with his professional football career, he wants to qualify as a lawyer and work within the sphere of human rights. He has plans in place to be successful after he hangs his footballing boots up. Jonas Olsson is one of West Bromwich Albion’s greatest-ever Premier League players.

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Premier League Rewind: 21st-23rd November 2015

Results: Watford 1-2 Manchester United, Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City, Everton 4-0 Aston Villa, Newcastle United 0-3 Leicester City, Southampton 0-1 Stoke City, Swansea City 2-2 AFC Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Arsenal, Manchester City 1-4 Liverpool FC, Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 West Ham United, Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland

In a season where many surprises were being produced, this was evident on the 21st-23rd November 2015 Premier League weekend. The league leaders were Arsenal going into the weekend but by the end of it, 5000-1 title outside shots Leicester City were sitting top of the pile.

Leicester travelled to Tyneside to face Newcastle United, with Jamie Vardy eyeing up a Premier League record. Midway through the first half, Vardy broke clear to open the scoring and therefore, register a goal for the 10th successive Premier League match. This equalled the long-time record, set by Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy back in 2003. Further goals from fellow forwards Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa ensured Leicester won 3-0 and recorded a fourth successive victory in the process.

Arsenal still could have been top of the table but they endured another difficult away afternoon at The Hawthorns. After taking the lead against West Bromwich Albion, their day fell apart. James Morrison levelled the scores in the 35th minute and five minutes later, club captain Mikel Arteta put the ball into his own net. Arsenal still had an opportunity to equalise in the last 10 minutes, only for Santi Cazorla to slip over and balloon his penalty kick into orbit. The 2-1 victory was West Brom’s third in their last five games.

Manchester City were seen as the title favourites by many and were unbeaten in two months when they entertained a Liverpool FC side that were still finding their feet under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp had only recorded one victory from his first four league matches. However, his side were about to put on a blistering attacking display at The Etihad Stadium. Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino were in sparkling form. Both Brazilians scored and Martin Skrtel hammered home a fourth goal in the second half. Liverpool won 4-1 to move into ninth place in the table. It was a Saturday evening for City to forget and particularly for Raheem Sterling, who was facing his old employers for the first time since his summer move.

Defeats for City and Arsenal meant Manchester United quietly crept into second position with a 2-1 victory at Watford. Memphis Depay gave them an early lead but Troy Deeney’s late spot-kick looked to have rescued a point for the Hertfordshire side. That was until a late winner for the Red Devils with Deeney scoring an unfortunate own goal. It would be their final league victory of 2015 as a dire December would follow for manager Louis van Gaal.

Tottenham Hotspur extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches with a resounding 4-1 victory over London rivals West Ham United, who were missing their influential playmaker Dimitri Payet due to injury. Harry Kane scored twice for the home side. At the wrong end of the table, Aston Villa’s crushing 4-0 defeat to Everton left them bottom with just five points and five points adrift of safety. Sunderland climbed above AFC Bournemouth after a Jermain Defoe goal was enough to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 on the Monday Night Football at Selhurst Park.

What else happened in November 2015?

  • The world is left appalled by a string of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13th November. The Bataclan concert hall, bars/restaurants and the Stade de France are all targeted. 130 people are killed.
  • In tennis, Great Britain wins the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936 after defeating Belgium in the final.
  • Storm Abigail is the first storm to be officially named by the Met Office. It leaves 20,000 people without power and much disruption to many travel services.
  • Alton Towers confirms that human error was the cause behind The Smiler rollercoaster crash in June that seriously injured five people.
  • ITV confirms it will air The Voice UK and The Voice Kids from 2017, poaching it from the BBC.
  • Children in Need raises over £37 million, which is a new record. It is the first time since its launch in 1980 that the legendary Sir Terry Wogan is unable to fulfil presenter duties following a back operation.
  • Turkey shoots down a Russian fighter jet in the first case of a NATO member destroying a Russian aircraft since the 1950s.

Shock Results: Charlton Athletic 1-4 West Bromwich Albion (March 2005)

Goalscorers: Geoff Horsfield 9, Jonatan Johansson 24, Rob Earnshaw 73, 84, 90 PEN

Teams:

Charlton Athletic: Dean Kiely, Talal El Karkouri (SENT OFF), Mark Fish, Hermann Hreidarsson, Luke Young, Paul Konchesky, Jerome Thomas, Danny Murphy (Dennis Rommedahl 77), Matt Holland, Jonatan Johansson (Jason Euell 70), Shaun Bartlett (Bryan Hughes 82)

West Bromwich Albion: Russell Hoult, Martin Albrechtsen, Neil Clement, Thomas Gaardsoe (Darren Moore 22), Paul Robinson, Kieran Richardson (Rob Earnshaw 64), Ronnie Wallwork, Jonathan Greening, Zoltan Gera (Richard Chaplow 86), Geoff Horsfield, Kevin Campbell

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 27,104

Bottom of the league going into this clash at The Valley, time was starting to run out for Bryan Robson and West Bromwich Albion. They’d won just two matches under his reign and were winless away from The Hawthorns. They were facing a Charlton side that were in seventh place and leading the race for the final UEFA Cup qualifying spot.

West Brom were boosted from a 2-0 victory a fortnight earlier at home to Birmingham City and they made a flying start off the back of this win. Nine minutes had been played when Zoltan Gera picked out Geoff Horsfield. Horsfield headed home from close-range with Charlton defenders looking rather static.

This sloppy start was not expected by the home team but it aroused Alan Curbishley’s side from their slumbers. Replacing Dennis Rommedahl in the starting XI, Jonatan Johansson had a point to prove and he delivered with the equaliser. Having just flashed a shot narrowly wide moments earlier, he was played through by Jerome Thomas and made the most of a fortunate bounce off the advancing goalkeeper Russell Hoult to guide the ball into an empty net.

The outcome of the game changed in the 29th minute when referee Mark Halsey flashed out his red card at Charlton defender Talal El Karkouri. El Karkouri’s feet left the ground in a nasty challenge on Gera. Albion players were livid with the tackle, surrounding the Moroccan international who was quite rightly sent off by Halsey. Despite the deficit of playing a man light, Charlton nearly led before the interval. Darren Moore, who had come on for the injured Thomas Gaardsoe had to clear a goal-line effort from Hermann Hreidarsson.

With 25 minutes left to play, Robson elected to switch to a 4-3-3 formation, sacrificing Kieran Richardson for Rob Earnshaw. The Welshman would have a sensational outcome on the match. Nine minutes after his arrival, he gave the visitors the lead. Paul Robinson had acres of space and produced a delightful cross to the back post. Horsfield won the header against Paul Konchesky and Earnshaw was in the right place to guide the ball past Dean Kiely.

With six minutes remaining, it was game over. Gera produced his second assist of the afternoon, with a neatly-threaded pass into Earnshaw’s path. He exposed the Charlton high offside line and commandingly beat Kiely to make it 3-1. However, there was one more moment of joy for the Albion supporters. In stoppage-time, Richard Chaplow was scythed down on his Premier League debut by Bryan Hughes. Halsey awarded a penalty and Earnshaw dispatched it effectively, to make it 10 Premier League goals for the season. It also meant he became the first player to score a hat-trick in all of England’s top four divisions, the FA Cup, the League Cup and at international level for Wales. It started West Brom’s amazing escape act, as they survived on the final day of the season.

Seasonal Records: 2004-2005

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2004-2005 Premier League campaign. It was a season to remember for Chelsea as the Blues won their first Premier League title, 50 years on from their last top-flight success, losing just one match all season.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 29 8 1 72 15 +57 95
2 Arsenal 38 25 8 5 87 36 +51 83
3 Manchester United 38 22 11 5 58 26 +32 77
4 Everton 38 18 7 13 45 46 -1 61
5 Liverpool FC 38 17 7 14 52 41 +11 58
6 Bolton Wanderers 38 16 10 12 49 44 +5 58
7 Middlesbrough 38 14 13 11 53 46 +7 55
8 Manchester City 38 13 13 12 47 39 +8 52
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 10 14 47 41 +6 52
10 Aston Villa 38 12 11 15 45 52 -7 47
11 Charlton Athletic 38 12 10 16 42 58 -16 46
12 Birmingham City 38 11 12 15 40 46 -6 45
13 Fulham 38 12 8 18 52 60 -8 44
14 Newcastle United 38 10 14 14 47 57 -10 44
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 9 15 14 32 43 -11 42
16 Portsmouth 38 10 9 19 43 59 -16 39
17 West Bromwich Albion 38 6 16 16 36 61 -25 34
18 Crystal Palace 38 7 12 19 41 62 -21 33
19 Norwich City 38 7 12 19 42 77 -35 33
20 Southampton 38 6 14 18 45 66 -21 32

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 975
European qualifiers Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Everton (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Bolton Wanderers (UEFA Cup)

Middlesbrough (UEFA Cup)

Newcastle United (UEFA Intertoto Cup)

Longest winning run 8 games (Chelsea)
Longest unbeaten run 29 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 15 games (West Bromwich Albion)
Longest losing run 6 games (Bolton Wanderers & Tottenham Hotspur)
Highest attendance 67,989 (Manchester United vs. Portsmouth)
Lowest attendance 16,180 (Fulham vs. West Bromwich Albion)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year John Terry (Chelsea)
PFA Young Player of the Year Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Football Writers’ Award Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
PFA Team of the Year Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry, Andy Johnson
Manager of the Year Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
Premier League Goal of the Season Wayne Rooney (MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Newcastle United)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Yakubu Portsmouth vs. Fulham 4-3 30th August 2004
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Blackburn Rovers vs. Middlesbrough 0-4 16th October 2004
Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea vs. Blackburn Rovers 4-0 23rd October 2004
Milan Baros Liverpool FC vs. Crystal Palace 3-2 13th November 2004
Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton 5-1 18th December 2004
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Portsmouth 3-0 5th March 2005
Rob Earnshaw Charlton Athletic vs. West Bromwich Albion 1-4 19th March 2005
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Norwich City 4-1 2nd April 2005

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Thierry Henry Arsenal 25
2 Andy Johnson Crystal Palace 21
3 Robert Pires Arsenal 14
4= Frank Lampard Chelsea 13
4= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Middlesbrough 13
4= Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur 13
4= Yakubu Portsmouth 13
8= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 12
8= Andy Cole Fulham 12
8= Peter Crouch Southampton 12
11= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 11
11= Tim Cahill Everton 11
11= Shaun Wright-Phillips Manchester City 11
11= Robbie Keane Tottenham Hotspur 11
11= Rob Earnshaw West Bromwich Albion 11
16= Didier Drogba Chelsea 10
16= Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 10
16= Robbie Fowler Manchester City 10
16= Emile Heskey Birmingham City 10
16= Kevin Phillips Southampton 10
21= Jose Antonio Reyes Arsenal 9
21= Paul Scholes Manchester United 9
21= Milan Baros Liverpool FC 9
21= El-Hadji Diouf Bolton Wanderers 9
21= Paul Dickov Blackburn Rovers 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11th May 2005
Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC 26th December 2004
Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Aston Villa 1st May 2005
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Southampton 18th December 2004
Charlton Athletic 0-4 Chelsea 27th November 2004
Arsenal 4-0 Charlton Athletic 2nd October 2004
Charlton Athletic 0-4 Manchester United 1st May 2005
Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 10th April 2005

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Tottenham Hotspur 4-5 Arsenal 13th November 2004
8 Arsenal 5-3 Middlesbrough 22nd August 2004
8 Norwich City 4-4 Middlesbrough 22nd January 2005
7 Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11th May 2005
7 Manchester United 5-2 Crystal Palace 18th December 2004
7 Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Everton 1st January 2005
7 Newcastle United 4-3 Manchester City 24th October 2004
7 Portsmouth 4-3 Fulham 30th August 2004
7 Southampton 4-3 Norwich City 30th April 2005
6 Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005
6 Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Aston Villa 1st May 2005
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Southampton 18th December 2004
6 Arsenal 2-4 Manchester United 1st February 2005
6 Fulham 2-4 Liverpool FC 16th October 2004
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Newcastle United 28th August 2004
6 Portsmouth 4-2 Charlton Athletic 9th April 2005
6 Blackburn Rovers 3-3 Birmingham City 21st November 2004
6 Southampton 3-3 Fulham 5th January 2005
6 Crystal Palace 3-3 Norwich City 16th April 2005

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
James Vaughan Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 16 years, 8 months, 27 days 10th April 2005
Cesc Fabregas Everton 1-4 Arsenal 17 years, 3 months, 11 days 15th August 2004
Philip Ifil Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Liverpool FC 17 years, 8 months, 27 days 14th August 2004
Anthony Grant Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea 17 years, 11 months, 6 days 10th May 2005
Nedum Onuoha Manchester City 1-1 Norwich City 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 1st November 2004
Matthew Bates Middlesbrough 3-2 Manchester City 17 years, 11 months, 26 days 6th December 2004
Leon Best Southampton 1-2 Newcastle United 18 years 19th September 2004
Ricardo Vaz Te Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 13 days 13th November 2004
Tom Soares Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace 18 years, 2 months, 15 days 25th September 2004
Martin Cranie Southampton 0-0 Charlton Athletic 18 years, 3 months 26th December 2004

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Kevin Poole Bolton Wanderers 1-1 West Bromwich Albion 41 years, 5 months, 11 days 1st January 2005
Nigel Martyn Everton 2-0 Newcastle United 38 years, 8 months, 26 days 7th May 2005
Colin Cooper Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 38 years, 1 month, 26 days 23rd April 2005
Les Ferdinand Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Blackburn Rovers 38 years, 10 days 28th December 2004
Fernando Hierro Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton 37 years, 1 month, 22 days 15th May 2005
Craig Short Blackburn Rovers 1-3 Fulham 36 years, 10 months, 12 days 7th May 2005
Youri Djorkaeff Chelsea 4-0 Blackburn Rovers 36 years, 7 months, 14 days 23rd October 2004
Graeme Le Saux Southampton 1-2 Manchester United 36 years, 6 months, 28 days 15th May 2005
Dennis Bergkamp Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal 36 years, 5 days 15th May 2005
Shaka Hislop Portsmouth 0-1 Blackburn Rovers 35 years, 10 months, 24 days 15th January 2005

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Petr Cech Chelsea 24
2= Roy Carroll Manchester United 15
2= Brad Friedel Blackburn Rovers 15
4 Nigel Martyn Everton 14
5= Paul Robinson Tottenham Hotspur 12
5= Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 12
7= Jens Lehmann Arsenal 11
7= David James Manchester City 11
7= Thomas Sorensen Aston Villa 11
10 Gabor Kiraly Crystal Palace 10

The Clubs: West Bromwich Albion

All data correct upto 23rd February 2018

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
445 109 126 210 465 680 -215 453 12

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Chris Brunt 258
James Morrison 244
Gareth McAuley 203
Jonas Olsson 201
Ben Foster 198
Youssef Mulumbu 157
Claudio Yacob 157
Craig Dawson 142
Graeme Dorrans 121
Jonathan Greening 106

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Peter Odemwingie 30
James Morrison 29
Chris Brunt 24
Saido Berahino 23
Salomon Rondon 21
Shane Long 19
Romelu Lukaku 17
Gareth McAuley 15
Youssef Mulumbu 12
Zoltan Gera 12

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-5 West Bromwich Albion 12th February 2012 2011-2012
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Everton 19th November 2005 2005-2006
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Sunderland 25th February 2012 2011-2012
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Burnley 28th September 2014 2014-2015
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Burnley 21st November 2016 2016-2017
Charlton Athletic 1-4 West Bromwich Albion 19th March 2005 2004-2005
Everton 1-4 West Bromwich Albion 27th November 2010 2010-2011
West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Middlesbrough 17th January 2009 2008-2009
West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Sunderland 25th April 2009 2008-2009
West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Blackburn Rovers 7th April 2012 2011-2012

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003 2002-2003
Chelsea 6-0 West Bromwich Albion 14th August 2010 2010-2011
Fulham 6-1 West Bromwich Albion 11th February 2006 2005-2006
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC 26th December 2004 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Manchester United 27th January 2009 2008-2009
Birmingham City 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 18th December 2004 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 23rd April 2005 2004-2005
Chelsea 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 24th August 2005 2005-2006
Manchester United 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 18th October 2008 2008-2009
Sunderland 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 13th December 2008 2008-2009

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Gary Megson 2 26th October 2004
Bryan Robson 2 18th September 2006
Tony Mowbray 1 16th June 2009
Roberto Di Matteo 1 6th February 2011
Roy Hodgson 2 14th May 2012
Steve Clarke 2 14th December 2013
Pepe Mel 1 12th May 2014
Alan Irvine 1 29th December 2014
Tony Pulis 4 20th November 2017
Alan Pardew 1

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Portsmouth 15th May 2005 27,751 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Manchester United 27th November 2004 27,709 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Manchester United 18th March 2006 27,623 2005-2006
West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Liverpool FC 1st April 2006 27,576 2005-2006
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC 26th December 2004 27,533 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur 28th December 2005 27,510 2005-2006
West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Chelsea 30th October 2004 27,399 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Arsenal 2nd May 2005 27,351 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 25th August 2004 27,191 2004-2005
West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Manchester United 11th January 2003 27,129 2002-2003

 

Intro

Having been the ultimate yo-yo club of the first decade of the new millennium, West Bromwich Albion have become a stable Premier League side. 2017-2018 is their eighth successive campaign in the top-flight and they are usually a solid, organised side who keep a raft of clean sheets and are one of the best teams at scoring from set-pieces. However, their Premier League place is looking in serious doubt as we enter the final three months of the current campaign.

 

2002-2003

West Bromwich Albion’s debut campaign in the Premier League was one about learning for future experiences. Gary Megson had done brilliantly to guide them into the top-flight unexpectedly but their first season at England’s highest level since 1986 would end with a swift return to the First Division.

The big arrival over the summer was the £2.5 million acquisition of highly-rated midfielder Jason Koumas from Tranmere Rovers. After losing their first three matches, West Brom achieved three successive 1-0 victories over Fulham, West Ham United and Southampton. However, they would win just three more matches in the league and were relegated on Easter Saturday 2003, despite a rare away success at bottom-placed Sunderland.

Goalscoring was a major problem with their joint-top scorers in the league, Danny Dichio and Scott Dobie, managing just five goals.

 

2004-2005

The Baggies’ second Premier League adventure is one of the most dramatic in the league’s archives. Having earned an instant return at the first attempt of asking, Megson brought in 10 players in the close season; including Nigerian forward Kanu, Danish defender Martin Albrechtsen and hotshot forward Rob Earnshaw. The season started poorly though and after a 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace in mid-October, Megson resigned after falling out with the board.

Former player Bryan Robson was appointed as his successor but results didn’t improve. A 4-0 defeat to Birmingham, followed by a 5-0 drubbing at home to a Liverpool FC side that had won just once all season away from Anfield left them bottom at Christmas. No club had survived from this position in Premier League history.

Robson used the January transfer window to strengthen the squad. He signed Kevin Campbell, whose goals had saved Everton from relegation in 1999 and took Kieran Richardson on a loan deal from Manchester United. Both signings worked well and a 2-0 home win over Manchester City in mid-January saw them achieve only their second win of the season.

An improvement in form followed. Earnshaw scored a hat-trick off the bench in an impressive 4-1 away win at Charlton which was their first away success of the season before a Zoltan Gera header defeated Champions League-chasing Everton. West Brom had hope of ‘The Great Escape.’ Yet on the final day, they were still bottom of the table and had to win, whilst hoping results went their way.

They played Portsmouth and midway through the second half, substitute Geoff Horsfield scored with almost his first touch to put them infront. Richardson added a second goal to ensure the 2-0 victory they needed. Now, it was a case of waiting and hoping. Relegation rivals Norwich and Southampton both lost, whilst a late Charlton equaliser meant Crystal Palace’s 2-2 draw at The Valley was not enough.

Once the realisation dawned on the players and fans that survival had been achieved, a mass pitch invasion was sparked, with huge celebrations. West Brom had become the first team to ever survive in Premier League history having been bottom on Christmas Day.

 

2005-2006

The club were unable to repeat their escape act of 2004-2005. The squad wasn’t strengthened hugely during pre-season and despite home victories over Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and a 4-0 beating of Everton, West Brom won just seven league matches all season.

It looked like they might just avoid the drop again but Portsmouth’s tremendous run at the end of the campaign, coupled with no wins in their last 13 matches meant they slipped out of the top-flight. Robson would leave his post in September 2006.

 

2008-2009

West Brom returned to the Premier League for the 2008-2009 season with Scot Tony Mowbray now in-charge. They made a stronger start to the season, earning 10 points from their opening seven matches, including an away win at Middlesbrough with Jonas Olsson’s first goal for the club. A terrible run of two points from the next 10 games though saw them slip into familiar territory and despite a pre-Christmas 2-1 victory over Manchester City, West Brom were bottom again on Christmas Day.

This time, there would be no repeat of 2004-2005. Just four more victories were recorded and although they convincingly defeated Middlesbrough and Sunderland at home (3-0 on both occasions), their third Premier League relegation was confirmed on the penultimate weekend of the season, thanks to a 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool FC.

Mowbray left the club at the end of the season to take the managerial post at Celtic and he would be replaced by Roberto Di Matteo, who had guided Milton Keynes Dons to the League One play-offs.

 

2010-2011

Di Matteo guided West Brom back to the Premier League at the first attempt and there were very early promising signs. Nigerian forward Peter Odemwingie joined the club and became the first Baggies player to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for his exploits in September. This included a shock 3-2 away win at The Emirates Stadium over Arsenal.

They were also the only side all campaign to take a point from Old Trafford, coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Manchester United. That left them sixth in the table, before a winter collapse. 11 defeats in 16 matches saw them slide to 16th and just one point above the drop zone. After a 3-0 loss at Manchester City in early February, Di Matteo was placed on gardening leave and replaced by Roy Hodgson, who was available after his dire spell as Liverpool FC manager.

The club had the leakiest defence in the division on his arrival and priority number one was tightening this area up. Hodgson achieved this and five wins in the final three months, including a 2-1 success over his former employers from Merseyside ensured a comfortable end to the season. Somen Tchoyi’s final day hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Newcastle United ensured an 11th place finish.

 

2011-2012

Hodgson broke West Brom’s transfer record in the summer of 2011 to acquire Shane Long from Reading for £7.5 million. Despite four defeats in their first five games, West Brom were never in danger of any relegation trouble. The highlight of an impressive season was a 5-1 demolition of Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux in February. Odemwingie scored a hat-trick in a result which remains the club’s biggest victory in the Premier League era.

For the first time, West Brom finished in the top 10 but Hodgson would not be staying. In late April, he was chosen as Fabio Capello’s successor to become manager of the England national team.

 

2012-2013

Roy’s replacement was rookie boss Steve Clarke, who made the step-up after serving as an assistant manager at Newcastle United, Chelsea and Liverpool FC. Clarke made a fantastic start, with Liverpool beaten 3-0 on the opening day. This was despite spending just £4 million in the summer and that was to make goalkeeper Ben Foster’s move from Birmingham City into a permanent transfer.

The signing of Romelu Lukaku on-loan from Chelsea was a masterstroke. The Belgian scored 17 times, including a final day hat-trick in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match as a manager. West Brom showed great character to recover three-goal deficits and draw 5-5 in an incredible ending to their season.

They beat Chelsea at home for the second successive campaign and achieved a league double over Liverpool FC. This was their best-ever Premier League season, finishing eighth with a record-points total of 49 points and 14 wins.

The only sour note was Odemwingie’s desire to leave. An issue over contract talks saw him try to force a move through to Queens Park Rangers on transfer deadline day in January. He even stupidly turned up at QPR’s training ground car park, believing a deal had been agreed between the two clubs. It hadn’t and he was forced to return reluctantly to The Hawthorns. The fans didn’t forgive him and his time with the club was effectively over.

 

2013-2014

There were high hopes for a similar campaign in 2013-2014 but it didn’t materialise. Odemwingie was sold to Cardiff City but Clarke missed out on getting Lukaku again on-loan. The Belgian chose Everton on transfer deadline day.

The season started solidly and they hit the heights of 9th place after a 2-2 draw at Chelsea in November which was nearly a victory until a controversial penalty was awarded to the home side in stoppage-time. Four successive defeats though did for Clarke and he was sacked in mid-December after a 1-0 away loss to Cardiff.

After Keith Downing took over in caretaker charge during Christmas, Pepe Mel was the surprise choice as permanent boss. It didn’t work out. He won just three of his 17 matches in control, which included blowing big leads at home to both Cardiff and Tottenham Hotspur. West Brom finished just one position above the bottom three and Mel was sacked a day after the season concluded.

The highlight of the season was a 2-1 away win at Old Trafford over champions Manchester United.

 

2014-2015

Alan Irvine took over in the summer of 2014 but he didn’t last long. A run of poor results saw him dismissed two days before the year was out. Under his stewardship, West Brom won just four times although they did record one of their biggest Premier League victories; 4-0 over Burnley in September.

Irvine was replaced by Tony Pulis who immediately made the Baggies tougher to beat. They achieved 10 clean sheets in his 18 matches in charge and there were notable victories over Chelsea and Manchester United in the closing weeks of the season. West Brom finished in a fairly comfortable 13th place.

The form of Saido Berahino was impressive throughout. He scored 14 Premier League goals in the season but that would be the high of his time with the Midlands side. Like Odemwingie previously, his head would be turned by interest from other clubs.

 

2015-2016

Home wins against Arsenal and Manchester United were the highlights of an unremarkable 2015-2016 season for West Brom which saw them finish a place lower than the previous season and one point fewer too.

Pulis broke the club’s transfer record to sign Venezuelan international Salomon Rondon from Zenit Saint Petersburg whilst Jonny Evans was another key arrival from Manchester United. Rondon responded by finishing as the top scorer with nine goals whilst Evans played his part in a strong-minded and well-drilled backline.

To demonstrate their no-thrills approach, all of Albion’s 10 victories were achieved by a one-goal margin.

 

2016-2017

For only the third time, West Brom achieved a top-10 finish in the Premier League and it could have been eighth in the table. It was a position they held from a New Years’ Eve 2-1 success away at Southampton until the final week of the season when they were overtaken by the Saints and AFC Bournemouth to wind up 10th.

Pulis masterminded another home victory over Arsenal with their power from set-pieces being far too much for a fragile Gunners team to deal with. Craig Dawson scored twice in the 3-1 victory. Salomon Rondon scored eight times, including a hat-trick of headers to defeat Swansea City in December.

There was also a second successive 4-0 humbling of Burnley and a 2-1 away triumph at reigning champions Leicester City; a result which began to spell the end for Claudio Ranieri as Leicester boss.

Seven defeats from their last nine matches took the gloss off what was a fairly strong season for the club.

 

2017-2018

West Brom started the 26th Premier League campaign with two successive 1-0 victories over AFC Bournemouth and Burnley but that is as good as it has got so far. Pulis was sacked after a heavy 4-0 home loss to Chelsea in November and Alan Pardew has been unable to steady the ship.

Seven points adrift of safety with just 11 games left to play, time is running out for the club to protect their Premier League status.

Shock Results: Arsenal 2-3 West Bromwich Albion (September 2010)

Goalscorers: Peter Odemwingie 50, Gonzalo Jara 52, Jerome Thomas 73, Samir Nasri 75, 90

Teams:

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, Laurent Koscielny (Carlos Vela 66), Sebastien Squillaci, Bacary Sagna, Emmanuel Eboue (Jack Wilshere 56), Abou Diaby (Tomas Rosicky 56), Alex Song, Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh

West Bromwich Albion: Scott Carson, Pablo Ibanez, Gonzalo Jara, Jonas Olsson, Nicky Shorey, Youssouf Mulumbu, Paul Scharner (Steven Reid 71), Chris Brunt, James Morrison (Graham Dorrans 78), Jerome Thomas (Somen Tchoyi 83), Peter Odemwingie

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 60,025

West Bromwich Albion arrived at The Emirates Stadium in September 2010 on a real high. They had just beaten their local rivals Birmingham City in the Premier League and dumped big-spending Manchester City out of the League Cup in midweek. Nevertheless, their chances of overcoming Arsenal were seen as quite low. 19 top-flight matches had passed since they’d won away from The Hawthorns.

Arsenal were missing the injured Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott but started strongly and it took some desperate clearances to stop West Brom falling behind very early on. Russian playmaker Andrey Arshavin hit the post and the main forward, Marouane Chamakh, headed narrowly wide from a Bacary Sagna cross. However, Roberto Di Matteo’s side had taken some lessons from Sunderland having frustrated the Gunners a week earlier. Their high pressing style and ability to close down space meant Arsenal’s most influential players weren’t able to get the time and space they normally would to dictate the tempo of the match. Nine minutes before half-time, Albion had a golden opportunity to take the lead.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia charged off his goal-line and chopped down the Nigerian forward Peter Odemwingie. It was a poorly-timed challenge and Michael Oliver correctly awarded a spot-kick. Up stepped the captain of the club, Chris Brunt. However, his penalty was weak, not fully in the corner and Almunia guessed right to redeem himself for giving away the opportunity in the first place.

It was 0-0 at half-time but the visitors, who might have felt they’d squandered their best chance, would get a catalogue of charitable moments in the second half which was clearly unexpected. Five minutes into the second half, former Arsenal player Jerome Thomas escaped Sagna on the by-line and pulled the ball back for Odemwingie to finish smartly. It was his third goal in just five matches for the club.

Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Brunt’s back heel underneath Gael Clichy’s legs played Gonzalo Jara through. The full-back tried his luck and it somehow beat Almunia who made a feeble attempt to save the shot at his near post. The game was as good as over after 73 minutes. Brunt pounced on some hesitant goalkeeping from Almunia, squared the ball across the box and Thomas finished into an empty net.

Samir Nasri did pull two goals back late on but the damage had been done and West Bromwich Albion held on for a deserved victory. This was the highlight of Di Matteo’s West Brom reign. He was sacked in February 2011 after a run of 13 defeats in 18 games but under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, the club survived comfortably in 11th position.

Great Goals: Bobby Zamora – West Bromwich Albion vs. QUEENS PARK RANGERS (April 2015)

The 2014-2015 season was a tough campaign for fans of Queens Park Rangers. One of their better days came away at The Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion.

They were already 2-0 ahead in the game when Bobby Zamora produced this remarkable moment. Played through by Matt Phillips three minutes before half-time, he beat Joleon Lescott in a sprint before producing the most delicate of lobs from the edge of the penalty area with the outside of his foot. The ball spun past a helpless Ben Foster and into the net.

Zamora would later say this was his best-ever goal in his career. Queens Park Rangers won the game 4-1 and completed a league double over West Brom for the season. However, they would end the season with the club being relegated to the Championship.

Premier League Files: Jason Roberts

Premier League Career: West Bromwich Albion (2002-2003), Portsmouth (2003), Wigan Athletic (2005-2006), Blackburn Rovers (2006-2011), Reading (2012)

Although his story isn’t quite as remarkable as the journey that Jamie Vardy has been on, Jason Roberts was another example of someone bouncing back after early disappointments and rejections. His longest Premier League spell was with Blackburn Rovers but the most fruitful spell of his career was probably with Wigan Athletic.

Roberts spent time in the youth academies at several leading professional clubs including Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. He was not retained by either side. As a youngster, these knockbacks can be devastating to a player’s career and mental approach. Despite these blows, Roberts was determined to make the big time, even if that meant taking an alternative route towards the top-flight.

A boyhood Celtic fan, he dropped into non-league football with Hayes and started to catch the eye at Bristol Rovers, scoring 38 goals in two seasons with the club from 1998 and 2000. With him and Nathan Ellington in the team, Bristol Rovers challenged for promotion to Division One but couldn’t quite complete the job. So, Roberts decided to move on to a higher level himself. He handed in a transfer request and joined West Bromwich Albion in July 2000.

Two seasons later, he was a Premier League player. Unfortunately, West Brom’s promotion campaign in 2001-2002 was a frustrating one for Jason. He had horrendous luck with injury, breaking the same metatarsal bone three times. This restricted him to just 12 league appearances. Nevertheless, he still chipped in with seven goals. Roberts’ first Premier League goal came at Highbury in a 5-2 defeat to Arsenal but he would only add another two to his tally as the Baggies’ Premier League stay was brief. Having experienced the taste of Premier League football, Roberts wanted more and would get it at Wigan Athletic a few years later.

There was a brief loan spell at Portsmouth during the first few months of the 2003-2004 campaign and another Premier League goal to his tally during his five months at Fratton Park at home to Everton. West Brom then sold him to Wigan in January 2004 for a fee of £1.4 million. His impact was instant, scoring inside 35 seconds of his debut in a victory over Preston North End. He struck 21 times in Wigan’s successful promotion campaign of 2004-2005 which meant another Premier League adventure for the Grenadian.

Roberts’ best season of his career was undoubtedly Wigan’s maiden season in the Premier League. He will always be in the club’s record books for scoring their first goal in the top-flight, netting from the penalty spot after only two minutes of a 1-0 victory over Sunderland. That came in Wigan’s third match of the season. Later in the season, he scored a dramatic late goal at Highbury which ensured the Latics knocked Arsenal out of the Carling Cup semi-finals and took Wigan to their first-ever major cup final. He started the showpiece event at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium but it ended in a 4-0 defeat to favourites Manchester United. He scored eight Premier League goals which was his best return at this level.

Unfortunately for Wigan, he couldn’t agree on a new contract and was sold to Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2006. He made over 150 appearances for Blackburn, scoring 28 goals and experienced European football for the first time. Away from the field of play, he was doing fine work. Whilst at Blackburn, he established the Jason Roberts Foundation, with the aim to provide a range of sporting opportunities for children and young people in the UK and Grenada. This meant he received an MBE in the 2010 New Years’ Honours List.

He joined Reading in 2012 and got one final experience of Premier League football. A hip injury forced him off in a defeat to Southampton in December 2012 and that was the last time he would play football. After surgery wasn’t successful, he announced his retirement from the game in March 2014. Today, he is now a regular pundit for BBC Sport on programmes including Final Score and Football Focus.

Jason Roberts did fine work away from the pitch and was a decent player who graced several clubs in his career. He was always an attacking threat and will be fondly remembered by Wigan Athletic for his heroics in their maiden Premier League campaign.

Memorable Matches: Queens Park Rangers 3-2 West Bromwich Albion (December 2014)

Goalscorers: Joleon Lescott 10, Silvestre Varela 20, Charlie Austin 24 PEN, 48, 86

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Robert Green, Yun Suk-Young (Clint Hill 30), Nedum Onuoha, Steven Caulker, Richard Dunne, Joey Barton, Leroy Fer, Karl Henry, Charlie Austin, Eduardo Vargas (Junior Hoilett 67), Bobby Zamora (Niko Kranjcar 80)

West Bromwich Albion: Ben Foster, Sebastien Pocognoli (Cristian Gamboa 90), Andre Wisdom, Joleon Lescott, Gareth McAuley, Graham Dorrans, Craig Gardner, James Morrison, Stephane Sessegnon, Silvestre Varela, Brown Ideye (Saido Berahino 69)

Referee: Craig Pawson, Attendance: 17,560

Going into this pre-Christmas match, both Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion were in the need for three points. Harry Redknapp’s side had failed to take a single point away from home but were in fine form at Loftus Road, taking 10 points from their last four home encounters. West Brom had just beaten Aston Villa in their last match to ease the pressure slightly on their head coach, Alan Irvine.

It was the visitors’ who made the better start and completely dominated in the first 20 minutes. Craig Gardner and Brown Ideye both came close to opening the scoring but it was a defender who would ultimately break the deadlock. Sebastien Pocognoli’s corner was flicked on by Stephane Sessegnon and Joleon Lescott headed home. Lescott was a summer arrival from Manchester City and this was his first goal since September 2012.

1-0 after 10 minutes became 2-0 after 20 minutes. Silvestre Varela linked up with Sessegnon, playing some smart one-touch football and he finished coolly inside the penalty area. Varela was on-loan from FC Porto and had struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. It was his first goal for the club and ultimately, his only goal in the Baggies’ colours.

Redknapp’s side needed a swift response and it arrived via the penalty spot just four minutes later. Referee Craig Pawson punished James Morrison for tugging away at Leroy Fer’s shirt. Charlie Austin, back from suspension after seeing red in QPR’s last home match against Burnley, made no mistake from the penalty spot. This goal meant he had scored in each of QPR’s last five home matches.

Despite getting back into the game, QPR were still second-best for the remainder of the first half. Green’s agility levels were tested on two further occasions before the interval to deny Gardner from a deflected free-kick and a dangerous drive from the impressive Sessegnon. West Brom’s failure to take their chances would cost them dearly in the second half.

Less than three minutes into the second half, Joey Barton’s corner was headed onto the crossbar by Richard Dunne. The ball fell perfectly to Austin, who bundled home a loose ball to level the scores. A winning goal always looked likely for either side and with Austin on the pitch, QPR could not be discounted. Four minutes from time, he climbed highest to head home another Barton corner. It was his ninth goal in the last seven matches and his maiden hat-trick in the Premier League.

The result lifted QPR out of the bottom three and into 15th spot, level on points with their opponents. Irvine lasted another two matches before being sacked. Tony Pulis succeeded him and steered Albion clear of any relegation danger. Despite the goals of Austin, QPR were relegated before the end of the season. This was their day though and one of the best comebacks of the 2014-2015 season.

Premier League Files: Geoff Horsfield

Premier League Career: Birmingham City (2002-2003), West Bromwich Albion (2004-2006)

Geoff Horsfield was one of those players who would always give a workmanlike effort. His hold-up ability and talent to back into defenders allowed his strike partners to get onto the end of decent opportunities. Horsfield’s career has been through a varied rollercoaster of emotions; from the joy of helping Birmingham City to the Premier League in 2002 to a battle with testicular cancer six years later.

His Football League breakthrough came as a teenager at the now-defunct club Scarborough before being released in 1994. Geoff had to earn his living then in part-time football with the likes of Witton Albion and Halifax Town whilst holding down a job as a bricklayer. A serious knee injury whilst in the non-league briefly threatened his longer-term football career but Horsfield would never let adversity get him down. After helping Halifax return to the Football League, he joined Fulham for £300,000 in October 1998 who were managed at the time by Kevin Keegan.

There was an immediate impact at Craven Cottage. Fulham won the Second Division title by 14 points and Horsfield was voted into the division’s PFA Team of the Year after chipping in with 15 goals from 28 games. Before leaving to take the England job, Keegan made a bold prediction: “Geoff’s your old-fashioned centre forward and we love him. He will score goals in the next divisions. He chases a lot of lost causes.”

Keegan’s successor, Jean Tigana disagreed and sold him to Birmingham City in July 2000. Horsfield proved the Frenchman wrong, featuring in the 2001 League Cup final and scoring the equaliser in the 2002 First Division playoff final against Norwich City which saw Birmingham promoted to the Premier League for the first time.

He will always be fondly remembered by Birmingham supporters for his contributions in the two Second City derbies in the 2002-2003 campaign. He capitalised on a dreadful mistake from Alpay to score the third goal in Birmingham’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at St Andrews. That was his first goal at this level. Six months later, he beat Peter Enckelman to a loose ball to score the second goal in a 2-0 win at Villa Park to ensure a famous league double for Birmingham as they finished a creditable 13th in their first season at this level.

However, he was slightly frustrated about his lack of starts in the top-flight and moved on in the closing days of the 2003 August transfer window, eventually to Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion via a brief unhappy spell at Wigan Athletic.

On signing Horsfield, Gary Megson suggested: “I actually went out on a bit of a limb by saying to the chairman that I think [Horsfield] would get us promoted … I think he just gave us that little something that was missing in getting hold of the ball, a little bit of cuteness up the front that enabled us to bring other people into the game.”

Megson was correct with his view. Geoff scored seven times and helped West Brom back to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking. 2004-2005 would see him have another go at the top-flight.

It started slowly for both player and club but Geoff became a Baggies’ cult figure forever with his impact on ‘Survival Sunday’ in 2005. Going into the final day of the season, none of the bottom four were safe and two points adrift of safety, it was West Brom who were the bookies’ favourites for relegation. By now, Bryan Robson was in charge and he left Horsfield on the bench for the crucial match against Portsmouth. The scoreline was 0-0 when Robson decided early in the second half to bring Horsfield on.

Within seconds, he had scored with his first touch to haul West Brom ahead and out of the bottom three. Kieran Richardson added a second goal, set-up by Horsfield and when Crystal Palace conceded late at Charlton, the party could begin. West Bromwich Albion survived and Horsfield later admitted this was the best achievement of his football career, despite the promotions he’d achieved with Halifax, Fulham and Birmingham.

He started 2005-2006 with this confidence, scoring twice against Portsmouth again and adding another against former club Birmingham but that was to be his last goal in the Premier League. He was loaned to Sheffield United in February 2006 and although he was a member of the Blades’ Premier League squad of 2006-2007, he never played for the club at the highest level.

In October 2008, Geoff revealed he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and was advised to retire from football. After successful treatment, he returned to the game with spells at Lincoln City and Port Vale. After doing some coaching with the latter, he walked away from football completely in May 2012 to pursue his business interests.

He was a no-nonsense footballer and there is no doubt that Geoff Horsfield left his mark on the Premier League chapters of both Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion.

The Managers: Gary Megson

Premier League Clubs Managed: Norwich City (1995), West Bromwich Albion (2002-2003, 2004), Bolton Wanderers (2007-2009)

Abrasive is one of the best words to sum up Gary Megson’s management career. If he liked you, you’d play pretty well and frequently too. If you fell out with him, Megson could be a nightmare for your career. He was never the fans’ popular choice at any of the clubs he managed which probably explains why his best finish in top-flight management is 13th with Bolton Wanderers in 2008-2009.

In his playing days, Megson was a tough-tackling, committed defensive midfielder who would play for nine different clubs. The best time of his career was during two spells with Sheffield Wednesday in the mid-1980s, scoring 25 goals in 233 appearances. His worst spell was a five-month period at Nottingham Forest where he didn’t make a single appearance and the late Brian Clough described him as “he couldn’t trap a bag of cement!” Ouch!

Brief fling at Norwich

Megson featured in the first three seasons of the Premier League as a player at Norwich City and when Mike Walker abruptly quit for Everton in January 1994, Megson combined his playing role with a coaching position, working as assistant manager to John Deehan. Towards the end of the 1994-1995 season, Deehan walked away from the job and under-fire owner Robert Chase elected to promote Megson into the hottest of hotseats.

He had five games to try and save the club’s Premier League status but collected just a single point from those matches. Norwich’s relegation to Division One was confirmed on the final Saturday of the season at Elland Road. They collected just 11 points after Christmas which saw them plummet from seventh at the midway point to relegation.

Megson did leave Carrow Road that summer to resume his playing career at Lincoln City and Shrewsbury Town but was back at Norwich before 1995 was out. Martin O’Neill had left for Leicester City but there was to be no magic spark for Megson. The Canaries’ finished a dreary 15th in Division One and he left that summer (this time for good), to seek further opportunities in management.

Beating the odds with the Baggies

Management spells followed at Blackpool, Stockport County and Stoke City. There were good sequences with all these sides but Megson just missed out on possible playoff positions. In March 2000, he was hired by West Bromwich Albion. He preserved their second-tier status against all odds and then spearheaded the Baggies’ to first a playoff finish in 2001, before promotion to the top-flight for the first time in 16 years in 2001-2002. In the closing weeks, Albion had obliterated an 11-point disadvantage on their Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers to finish runners-up to Manchester City. An unexpected Premier League chance was there for the supporters to savour.

There were no surprises though that relegation followed a year later. Just six wins from 38 matches were achieved and there were to be no wins on home soil from the end of November onwards. In many games, Albion competed well enough but they simply didn’t have the ultimate quality to stay up. Megson mounted a successful promotion campaign the following season but by the summer of 2004, the relationship between the manager and his owner Jeremy Peace had become strained.

It became known that some players weren’t keen on playing for Megson. In 2004, ex-Coventry City forward Darren Huckerby had a choice of joining either Norwich City or West Brom. He chose the former and didn’t hold back either on criticising Megson’s coaching style when asked why he signed for Norwich. He said: “I told him I didn’t like the way he coached, I didn’t like the way he shouted at his players and didn’t like the way he treated seasoned professionals like 15-year-olds. I was just being honest with him. I said: “I’ve seen you on the sidelines and you look like a crazed animal.”

In September 2004, Megson’s job appeared to be under threat after a poor start to Albion’s Premier League return. A month later, he confirmed he would leave at the end of the season and the board decided this was a good reason to wield the axe. Three days after a 3-0 loss to relegation rivals Crystal Palace, Megson left the Hawthorns. He wouldn’t return to the Premier League until October 2007.

Never popular at Bolton

When appointed, the fans at the Reebok Stadium were not impressed with the choice. Megson had been hired despite having only been in charge for nine games and 41 days at Leicester City. He took over with Bolton in the bottom three, having amassed just five points from 10 matches under Sammy Lee’s difficult stint. There was early progress though, including a first home win in 30 years over champions Manchester United.

League form was still ropey in 2008 though. Star striker Nicolas Anelka was sold to Chelsea and no obvious replacement came in. In early April, Bolton slipped back into the bottom three but they rallied to take 11 points from their last five matches and therefore stayed up. It was Megson’s first survival as a Premier League manager.

2008-2009 was a progressive season. He spent £13.2 million on Johan Elmander and Fabrice Muamba in the summer transfer window and guided the club to eighth in the table by November 2008. That was good enough for Megson to claim his one and only Manager of the Month award. Although they dropped to 13th by the season’s end, relegation talk was never considered all season for the Trotters.

It was a different story in 2009-2010. Bolton led several matches but couldn’t close games out and by Christmas, they were in the dreaded drop zone. After throwing away a two-goal lead at home to Hull City to draw 2-2 with their rivals in distress, the board elected to sack Megson two days before 2009 drew to a close. His last management job was at Sheffield Wednesday which ended in February 2012 after a derby loss to Sheffield United.

After a lengthy spell out of the game, Megson returned to West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2017, becoming Tony Pulis’ assistant manager at The Hawthorns. It was a new role and a new challenge for him after being the no.1 for such a long time.

When Pulis was sacked in November 2017, Megson returned to the West Brom hotseat in caretaker charge. He managed two draws before leaving the club following the permanent appointment of Alan Pardew as Pulis’ successor.

The Managers: Tony Pulis

Premier League Clubs Managed: Stoke City (2008-2013), Crystal Palace (2013-2014), West Bromwich Albion (2015-PRESENT)

In 2018, Tony Pulis will celebrate his 60th birthday. The Welshman has become a specialist in stabilising Premier League teams. He gets the absolute maximum out of all of his players and whilst his teams might lack the overall superstar who will wow supporters, he will ensure his sides are tough to break down and specialise in their strengths to win football matches.

Pulis has attracted criticism from some of the modern day fans. Some feel his tactics are dull and make games to watch uninspiring. Sometimes, it is a fair point but if you asked fans of his current club West Bromwich Albion, you would want to survive in the Premier League. Survival is more important than substance and Pulis does this brilliantly.

He now been managing for the best part of 25 years and it took a while to reach the promise land with Stoke City in 2008. Since then, Tony has been a regular fixture in the Premier League managerial dugout.

Playing attempts

Like many before him, Pulis went into management after the end of his playing career. He spent 17 years kicking footballs rather than coaching footballers and being a defender, you can see why he always builds his teams from the back.

During his playing days, Pulis played for five teams in his career. He even spent one season playing abroad in Hong Kong for Happy Valley – one of the most successful clubs in the country with six domestic championships.

He began his playing career at Bristol Rovers and also featured for local club Newport County AFC, Gillingham and AFC Bournemouth. He would go on to manage the latter two clubs in his career and his break came soon than expected at Dean Court.

Filling Harry’s shoes

Coaching was always in Tony’s mind, even in his early playing career. He obtained his FA coaching badge at just 19, followed by his UEFA ‘A’ licence aged 21 – making him one of the youngest professional players ever to have obtained the qualification.

He wound down his playing time with Bournemouth, eventually taking the management role in 1992 when Harry Redknapp quit, becoming Billy Bonds’ no.2 at West Ham United. A couple of 17th-place finishes weren’t anything to write home about but he was up and running and his next stop was a more successful spell at Gillingham.

He managed them for four campaigns and turned them from relegation strugglers to promotion contenders. In 1999, he took Gillingham to the Division Two playoff final and a meeting with Manchester City at Wembley. What followed next was one of the most sensational playoff finals of all-time. It looked like Pulis was going to take Gillingham up. They dominated the game and eventually took the lead through Carl Asaba, before Robert Taylor doubled the lead. Then, Manchester City produced an unbelievable turnaround to level the game at 2-2, before winning the penalty shootout 3-1. City would go onto achieve back-to-back promotions. Pulis would be out of work just weeks later. A falling out with owner Paul Scally led to his sacking for a claim of gross misconduct. He would sue Scally later for unpaid bonuses which were eventually settled out of court.

Brief spells at Bristol City and Portsmouth going into the millennium didn’t work out and it wasn’t until 2002 until he seemed to have found a home which was with Stoke City. However, that wouldn’t be without dramas of its’ own.

Reaching the promise land eventually at Stoke

Tony took over a team struggling in the First Division in November 2002 and managed to grind out enough victories and points to survive relegation on the final day of the season. The loan signings of Mark Crossley and Ade Akinbiyi played a pivotal part in the Potters’ escaping the drop. Even to this day, Pulis claims this is one of his finest achievements in management.

An 11th-place finish followed in 2003-2004 but soon, relations soured between Pulis and the Icelandic owner of the club, Gunnar Gislason. Rows broke out over the club’s transfer business. Pulis was furious that his main forward, Akinbiyi was sold to Championship rivals Burnley and no proven replacement came into the club. Gislason wanted the Welshman to spread his wings and use the foreign market. It was never going to end well and he was sacked in June 2005. The official reason given was “failing to exploit the foreign transfer market.”

He went to Plymouth Argyle, who were also flying high as a Championship club and a 14th-place finish was an overachievement considering the club’s own restrained budgets and expectations. Although he enjoyed his time with the Pilgrims’, Pulis had unfinished business at Stoke and when a board takeover happened, speculation intensified that he would return to the Britannia Stadium.

Less than a year after leaving Stoke, he returned to the club as manager with Peter Coates as the new owner. He backed Pulis in the transfer market and Tony started to bring in very solid Championship players including Danny Higginbotham, Ricardo Fuller and Rory Delap. They were in the playoff shake-up for much of the 2006-2007 season but a draw on the final day against Queens Park Rangers meant they eventually finished in eighth spot. A more serious push followed in 2007-2008. Again, Pulis used the loan market to great effect, which included the arrival of Ryan Shawcross. On the final day of the campaign, Stoke’s draw with Leicester City was good enough to take them up to the Premier League for their first top-flight season in 23 years.

His Premier League break had finally arrived.

Finals and Europe visit the Britannia

Stoke immediately made the Britannia Stadium a feared place to come for opponents. Aston Villa, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were among the early casualties to come a cropper in Staffordshire. A poor Christmas programme dropped the club into the bottom three but the January signings of James Beattie and Matthew Etherington were brilliant bits of business that allowed the club to push clear of danger.

Despite starting 2008-2009 as a favourite for relegation, Pulis took the club to an impressive 12th-place finish, securing safety three games from the end of the season. In 2009-2010, there was more progress with a run to the FA Cup quarter-finals and an 11th-place finish in the league, two points better than the previous campaign.

The achievements kept coming for Tony and the club. In 2011, Stoke thrashed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 in the FA Cup semi-finals to reach an FA Cup final for the first time in their history. Although they lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the showpiece event, City’s guaranteed Champions League participation ensured Stoke a place in the UEFA Europa League for the 2011-2012 campaign.

As Europe beckoned, a stronger squad was required. The club’s transfer record was broken to sign the likes of Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch. Crouch’s £10million arrival meant that record had been broken for a fourth successive season. They advanced to the knockout rounds of the Europa League and only narrowly went out 2-0 on aggregate in the last 32 to former Spanish superpower Valencia.

However, despite all of this success and a strong bond with the club’s owners, Tony couldn’t break Stoke into the Premier League’s top 10. 11th in 2009-2010 remained the highest finish and as progress stagnated, he parted company with the club at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign. He took a six-month hiatus from football but was soon back to try and rescue Crystal Palace.

Reviving Palace and rejuvenating Albion

Pulis succeeded Ian Holloway in November 2013 to take over a Crystal Palace side that had won just twice and were bottom of the Premier League. It was going to be a tough job but early victories in his reign at home to West Ham United and Cardiff City suggested he could turn things around.

He exploited the January transfer market again and did some great business. Joe Ledley from Celtic, defender Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers and Wayne Hennessey were among the five acquisitions he made. A run of five successive victories in April 2014 saw him take the Manager of the Month award and eventually, survival was comfortably achieved. To put it into context, no Palace manager had previously steered the club clear of relegation in the Premier League era. They finished 11th with 45 points and Pulis’ work was recognised. He was given the title of Premier League Manager of the Year.

However, his time at Selhurst Park would be short. Feeling he wasn’t being backed in the summer transfer market by the Palace board, he left by mutual consent just two days before the start of the 2014-2015 campaign. For the second successive season, Tony would spend the opening weeks away from the dugout.

He returned on New Years’ Day 2015 though, taking over as Head Coach at West Bromwich Albion after they dispensed with the services of Alan Irvine. There was an immediate response to his appointment. Darren Fletcher arrived from Manchester United to take over the captaincy and victories included a 3-0 win over champions Chelsea. West Brom finished 13th having looked like a serious relegation contender until Pulis’ arrival through the door at the Hawthorns.

In 2015, he broke West Brom’s transfer record to sign the nomadic Venezuelan forward Salomon Rondon and also added Jonny Evans, James McClean and Rickie Lambert to the ranks. In 2015-2016, West Brom were in no relegation danger for much of the campaign but did finish a rather uninspiring 14th. The highlights of the campaign were home victories over Arsenal and Manchester United.

2016-2017 saw Pulis finally finish a season in the top 10 as a Premier League manager at the ninth attempt of asking. Matt Phillips, Hal Robson-Kanu and Nacer Chadli for a new club-record fee were among the new arrivals and West Brom started to become a more attractive side to watch. Their 2-1 victory in November 2016 at champions Leicester City was seen as a turning point in their season – a day when they outplayed and outclassed the champions.

There was an excellent 3-1 success over a dispirited Arsenal in March 2017 and for much of the campaign, West Brom were best of the rest, looking set for an eighth place finish. Unfortunately, form tailed off after a creditable point at Old Trafford and they slipped behind Southampton and AFC Bournemouth in the final week of the season. Nevertheless, it had been a very positive season for everyone connected with West Bromwich Albion.

Although club captain Fletcher departed for Stoke after talks broke down over a new contract, Pulis has had an outstanding summer transfer window. He brought in long-time target Jay Rodriguez from Southampton, young Scottish talent Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig and the loan signing of Grzegorz Krychowiak from Paris Saint-Germain. Two wins and a draw from the club’s first four matches of 2017-2018 hints that it could be another strong season at the Hawthorns.

Tony Pulis’ ability to keep struggling clubs away from the threats of relegation can’t be questioned. He might one of the rare breed of old-fashioned managers who prefers the long ball style of play. However, it has always worked for him and there is no need to change this, especially as he has a proud record of never being relegated as a player or manager. Having just extended his contract to stay at West Bromwich Albion until 2019, expect Tony Pulis to be around in the Premier League for some time to come.