West Brom boss Tony Mowbray faces a tough job keeping the Baggies in the Premier League next season, but without their three best players from last season making a plausible case for a football bet on their survival looks almostÃ‚Â impossible.Ã‚Â
Last seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Championship champions have lost defensive kingpin Martin Albrechtsen, goal machine Kevin Phillips, and midfield wizard Zoltan Gera and so far Mowbray has had little success replacing the keyÃ‚Â trio – who were the best Albion had last term.
Defender Gianni Zuiverloon has arrived for Ã‚Â£3.2million from Herenveen and on his showings for the Dutch Under-21s at the European Championships last summer he will prove an asset to the Premier League newcomers. The 21-year-old has bags of pace and although predominantly a right-back the youngster can fill in at centre-back and he looks a good replacement for Albrechtsen, who has joined Derby.Ã‚Â
However Mowbray has not yet replaced Gera or Phillips, instead he has signed up Luke Moore, Roman Bednar and Kim Do-Heon who were all on loan last season.Ã‚Â
Both Gera and Phillips will be difficult to replace for Mowbray, whose side are one of the bookiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ favourites to make a quick return to the second tier. Gera made 49 appearances last season and netted 10 times for the Baggies before making a summer switch to Fulham and his creativity and passing will be badly missed.
Phillips meanwhile scored 46 goals in two seasons for the Hawthorns club and a marksman of his proven ability is not available for a sum under Ã‚Â£10million – just ask Manchester City who have drafted in numerous big-money strikers with little success.
The 34-year-old Phillips was chasing a two-year deal which West Brom would not agree to and the former Sunderland striker has instead signed for Birmingham City.Ã‚Â
Scoring enough goals will be a big problem for all three of the promoted teams in the coming seasonÃ‚Â and with Albion losing a large chunk of the goals that helped them into the Premier League they will need some shrewd dealing in the transfer market to boost their hopes of staying up.
Mowbray’s men could hardly face a tougher opening-day assignment as well, they face a trip to The Emirates to take on Arsenal and they don’t look like winning Premier League betting material on August 16.
It could be a long hard season for Mowbray and his charges and with expectations in the west Midlands raised after the Baggies’ attacking exploits last term there could well be a few long faces around the Hawthorns in the coming months.
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