Now a fully respected Premier League club after a seven-year stint in the top flight, but there has been a sense that West Brom have been treading water for some time. The appointment of Tony Pulis at the start of 2015 looked to get the club moving forward again, but after a tricky start to the current season, the Welshman was relieved of his duties.
New manager Alan Pardew has a serious job on his hands to keep The Baggies up, but there has been a slight change in fortunes over the past month or so. With a full season ahead of you, can you rejuvenate this West Brom side on Football Manager 2018 and take them back into the top half of the Premier League table?
Given the lack of star quality in their squad, there are no philosophies you need to follow as the West Brom boss. You can present your own ideas to the board, but for your first season at least you shouldn’t add any extra pressure on yourself.
West Brom chairman John Williams will welcome you to the club and then issue the expectations for the season. These are customisable, but the default is to finish mid-table in the English Premier Division, reach the fifth round of the FA Cup and make it to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
If you target a top half finish, you will receive an extra £4.6 million for your transfer budget, where aiming for trips to the quarterfinals in both cups can get you an extra £1.5 million.
Transfer £25 million
Wage: £1.15m per week (Current spend: £1.08m)
You should look to play some sort of 4-3-3 formation with West Brom, and you may wish to adjust it depending on the strength of your opponents. For balance, we’ve gone for a 4-1-4-1 DM wide asymmetric to get the best out of your key players.
Ben Foster is the obvious choice in goal, with Allan Nyom, Craig Dawson, Jonny Evans and Kieran Gibbs in the back four.
On loan PSG man Grzegorz Krychowiak is in defensive midfield, with Jake Livermore just ahead in a box-to-box role.
Matt Phillips and Nacer Chadli flank attacking midfielder James Morrison as target man Salomon Rondon leads the line.
On the bench go for Boaz Myhill, Ahmed Hegazi, Chris Brunt, Claudio Yacob, Gareth Barry, Jay Rodriguez and Hal Robson-Kanu.
There is some useful talent at West Brom, but there are also quite a few average players in the squad. Getting the most out of these key players will be the challenge.
Jonny Evans – CA 4 star (155), PA 4 star (155)
One of the most sort after defenders in the Premier League this season, Jonny Evans has been linked with both Manchester City and Arsenal. Without the centre back in their side, The Baggies would be dead and buried in terms of relegation this year, so the club captain will be vital to how your West Brom fare on FM.
On the game, the former Manchester United player has a CA and PA of 155, meaning he is at the peak of his career. The 29-year-old Evans has attributes of 18 consistency, 16 tackling and 16 marking to aid your defence this season.
Nacer Chadli – CA 3.5 star (148), PA 3.5 star (153)
On the attacking front, you will be looking for Nacer Chadli to be the catalyst for goals. The left winger has struggled since arriving at The Hawthorns from Tottenham in 2016, with a lack of support in attacking areas. He is better than his six goals and five assists in 36 games.
A 148 current ability rating can grow slightly to a 153 potential for the 27-year-old, so his stats of 15 dribbling, 15 passing and 15 first touch can still improve.
Ben Foster – CA 3.5 star (145), PA 3.5 star (153)
On his day, Ben Foster can be near impossible to beat. Unfortunately, the 34-year-old does also have games in which he looks incredibly average, so how he performs for you this season will dictate where you finish in the league table.
England international Foster has attributes of 17 reflexes, 17 handling and 17 aerial ability, which give him a current ability score of 145, eight off his 153 potential.
Names such as Bryan Robson, Ashley Williams and Saido Berahino have hailed from the West Brom academy, but they need more youngsters coming through if the club wants to continue growing.
Rayhaan Tulloch – CA 1 star (68), PA 3.5-4.5 star (130-160)
Aged just 16, Rayhaan Tulloch has already made it to the bench for West Brom in the Premier League. The striker or winger has scored five goals in just four games for the U18s this season and has two in six for England U17s. On FM, his tiny 68 current ability rating can grow to something special between 130 and 160.
Jamie Soule – CA 1 star (65), PA 3-4 star (120-150)
Another useful goalscorer, the 16-year-old Jamie Soule has four goals and three assists for West Brom U18s this season. The striker has also been selected for the England U17 squad, but is yet to represent his country. His 65 CA can rise to a potential between 120 and 150.
Yusuff Ojebode – CA 1 star (60), PA 1.5-2.5 star (110-140)
Right back Yussuf Ojebode is a bit more of an unknown quantity, with the 16-year-old having only played six games for the U18s so far. Keep an eye on his development over the coming seasons, and his 60 CA can get to a potential between 110 and 140 which could put him in first team contention.
|Jumping reach||Overall depth|
|Youth prospects||Goalkeeper depth|
|Left back depth||First touch|
|Centre back depth||Passing|
|Star goalkeeper (Ben Foster)||Leadership|
|Star centre back (Jonny Evans)||Aggression|
|Star central midfielder (Claudio Yacob)||Work rate|
|Right back depth||Decisions|
|Transfer budget||Coaching staff|
|Wage budget||Scouting staff|
Team Leaders - Jonny Evans (C), Chris Brunt, James Morrison
Highly influential - Gareth Barry, Gareth McAuley, Ben Foster, Salomon Rondon, Claudio Yacob, Craig Dawson, Jake Livermore, James McClean, Nacer Chadli
Dynamics is the main new feature for Football Manager 2018, and it shows the atmosphere inside the dressing room at your club. The Dynamics tab can show you the different social groups in your squad, which players hold the most influence over others and the happiness of your players. When speaking with the more influential members of the team, remember what you say could have a knock-on effect on their teammates.
£25 million gives West Brom one of the larger transfer budgets in the Premier League (given that a transfer window has theoretically already taken place), so you should use that cash to fill in the gaps in the squad.
Starting right back – Mariano (CA 151, PA 152)
Allan Nyom is the weakest player in your starting line-up, and with no other conventional right backs available, you need to bring in another. Galatasaray new man Mariano is your best bet, and the Brazilian can be yours for just £12 million. That price will get you his attributes of 17 stamina, 16 acceleration and 15 decisions which leads to a CA of 151, just off his 152 PA. The 31-year-old has wages of £46,000 a week.
- Joao Cancelo – Age 23, Inter, Portugal, CA 146, PA 164, Value: £11m, Wage: £63k
- Alvaro Odriozola – Age 21, Real San Sebastian, Spain, CA 144, PA 163, Value: £10m, Wage: £33k
- Martin Montoya – Age 26, Valencia, Spain, CA 143, PA 155, Value: £5m, Wage: £49k
- Fagner – Age 28, COR, Brazil, CA 143, PA 145, Value: £9m, Wage: £14k
Back up left back – Jorge (CA 135, PA 158)
Moving over to left back, it’s a similar story as Kieran Gibbs is the only out-and-out player in that position. Monaco’s Jorge is available on loan, and you should jump at the chance at getting hold of the Brazilian. The 21-year-old has a CA 135 which will grow rapidly to his potential of 158, and his attributes of 15 pressure, 15 agility and 15 technique make him a reliable man to bring in. His wages are currently £36,000 but his transfer price of over £100 million will rule out any chance of you bringing him in permanently.
- Antonio Barreca – Age 22, Torino, Italy, CA 135, PA 153, Value: £7m, Wage: £13k
- Alex Grimaldo – Age 21, SLB, Spain, CA 143, PA 162, Value: £8m, Wage: £14k
- Jose Gaya – Age 22, Valencia, Spain, CA 143, PA 159, Value: £8m, Wage: £56k
- Alex Telles – Age 24, FCP, Brazil, CA 145, PA 153, Value: £9m, Wage: £20k
At large, the financial picture at West Brom looks strong. The overall balance of the club is on a gradual rise, but the profits are set to turn to loss at the start of 2018. The good news is that your future transfer budgets will be healthy, and by May 2019 to will have almost £60 million at your disposal.
Time to open up?
West Brom have a reputation for being very difficult to play against. They like to keep things compact at the Hawthorns, to sit deep and give their opponents very little space. This may be efficient, but it isn’t the most exciting. You now have the choice to follow this philosophy, or chance your arm and play some more attacking football. Yes, you may lose more fixtures, but you may win some more too, so perhaps as you sign players to this Baggies squad, you look for players who could provide that something extra.
West Brom first team squad, player roles and ratings
|Player||Age||Pos||Role||Duty||Role Ability||CA/ PA|
|Ben Foster||34||GK||Goalkeeper||Defend||3.5 star||145/ 153|
|Allan Nyom||29||DR||Defensive full-back||Defend||3 star||133/ 145|
|Craig Dawson||27||DCR||Defensive centre back||Any||3 star||138/ 140|
|Jonny Evans||29||DCL||Ball playing defender||Defend||4 star||155/ 155|
|Kieran Gibbs||27||DL||Full-back||Automatic/ attack||3.5 star||141/ 148|
|Grzegorz Krychowiak||27||DMCL||Ball winning midfielder||Support||4 star||143/ 152|
|Jake Livermore||27||MCR||Box to box midfielder/ mezzala/ carrilero||Support||3.5 star||139/ 144|
|Matt Phillips||26||AMR||Winger||Support||3 star||140/ 145|
|James Morrison||31||AMC||Advanced playmaker||Attack||3.5 star||141/ 143|
|Nacer Chadli||27||AML||Inside forward||Support||3.5 star||148/ 153|
|Salomon Rondon||27||STC||Target man||Support||3.5 star||141/ 155|
|Boaz Myhill||34||GK||Goalkeeper||Defend||2.5 star||125/ 129|
|Ahmed Hegazi||26||D (C)||Defensive centre back||Any||2.5 star||119/ 130|
|Chris Brunt||32||D (L) WB (L) M (RLC) AM (RL)||Wide midfielder||Automatic/ support||3.5 star||142/ 142|
|Claudio Yacob||30||DM M (C)||Defensive midfielder||Defend||3.5 star||140/ 150|
|Gareth Barry||36||DM M (C)||Half back||Defend||3 star||131/ 155|
|Jay Rodriguez||28||M (RL) AM (RL) ST (C)||Inside forward||Attack||3 star||136/ 145|
|Hal Robson-Kanu||28||AM (RLC) ST (C)||Winger||Support||2.5 star||123/ 130|
|Sam Field||19||DM M (C)||Deep lying playmaker||Defend||2.5 star||121/ <160|
|James McClean||28||M (RL) AM (RL)||Winger||Support||3 star||130/ 131|
|Oliver Burke||20||M (RL) AM (RL)||Winger||Support||2.5 star||128/ <170|
|Gareth McAuley||37||D (C)||Central defender||Defend||3 star||133/ 133|
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