1. ITV Report

Premier League season preview: West Brom looking upwards

Joleon Lescott is a key man. Photo: PA

By Harry Hesp

A Tony Pulis rescue job saw the Baggies finish a solid 13th place last season. A lot will depend on whether they can keep star striker Saido Berahino as his 14 Premier League goals would be sorely missed in a team that only managed 38 last year, but the right man is in charge and the club has solid foundations so if Berahino did go Pulis would be trusted to reinvest the money wisely.

Predicted finish: 14th


Pulis must think highly of James Chester to splash out £8m on the Hull defender. The defence is an area that needs addressing and whether Chester is the consistent performer West Brom needed is questionable but he is versatile and can be used across the back four. James McClean has also joined for what could be a bargain price of £1.5m if he can recapture the form he produced early on in his Sunderland career.

Serge Gnabry has joined. Credit: PA

Goals are desperately needed and Rickie Lambert has arrived from Liverpool for £3m but at 33 he has to be seen as a short-term fix. Charlie Austin has been mentioned but the Baggies face stiff competition from half the Premier League for his signature - however, one would think he’d flourish under Pulis’ style. There was rumours of a club-record bid for Zenit striker Salomon Rondon, another powerful forward who could benefit under Pulis.

Serge Gnabry could be one of the stars to emerge in the Premier League this year - he’s joined on a season loan from Arsenal and comes with pace, guile and tenacity.

Only the four signings so far suggest Pulis has been frustrated in the market and that was evident when About Diaby revealed he turned down a move to The Hawthorns to join Marseille and winger Bakary Sako chose Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace.

The Welshman has never been so quiet in the transfer market - expect a flurry of late deals.

Tony Pulis will be aiming for West Brom to get better. Credit: PA

The manager: Tony Pulis

After four managers in under two years the club finally has a bit of stability under the baseball-capped-crusader and the Welshman has got a full calendar this time around to show what he can do.

Pulis did what he does best last season and rescued West Brom’s plight under Alan Irvine but where does he go from here? When asked, he’ll will set the bar low for his first full season in charge but in reality he’ll be looking at a lower mid-table position - similar to the 13th he achieved last term - an overachievement given the team’s dreadful first few months.

The key will be home form, Pulis’ Stoke and Crystal Palace were notoriously hard to beat at the Britannia and Selhurst Park and he’s pulled no punches in pre-season this time around to ensure his team are as fit and well-drilled as they can be. Pulis has never been relegated in his 23-year managerial career and he’ll more than likely keep that record this time around.

Adil Nabi, left, is one to look out for. Credit: PA

One to watch: Adil Nabi

The 21-year-old is hoping to break into the first-team in the same manner that good friend and youth-level striker partner Saido Berahino did. Nabi consistently banged them in at U21 level last season to earn himself West Brom’s young player of the year award leading the club to utilise an option to extend his contract for the coming season. He was given a run out for the first-team in pre-season and duly netted the only goal in a 3-1 defeat to Salzburg. A clever finisher desperate to prove he can do it at the highest level.

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