Welcome to Last Word on Football’s Team of the Decade series. Today we look at the players and manager who have made it into the West Bromwich Albion team. 2010 to the end of 2019 saw the Baggies make the transition from yo-yo club to Premier League regular.
West Brom spent eight seasons in the top division, their longest stay in the top tier in the Premier League era. They claimed three top-half finishes, with their highest finish coming in 2013 as they finished eighth. Their time in the Premier League came to an end in 2018 after the misjudged appointment of Alan Pardew saw them relegated back to the second tier.
West Bromwich Albion Team of the Decade
Manager – Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson arrived at The Hawthorns in February 2011 with his reputation dented by a disastrous spell at Liverpool. He left just 15 months later as the next head coach of the England national side, such was his success with Albion. In his first season, he led them to 11th in the table, their highest league finish for three decades. He then went on to permanently write his name into Albion folklore when he oversaw the 5-1 demolition of local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Formation – 4-4-2
Goalkeeper – Ben Foster
In his first season with West Brom, Foster played in 37 of their 38 league matches, keeping ten league clean sheets, which equalled the club’s Premier League clean sheets record. This would be the beginning of an impressive spell in the Midlands for Foster. In 2017, he was nominated for the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award and the West Brom Supporters’ Club Player of the Season.
Right Back – Steven Reid
Reid initially signed a one-month loan deal with West Brom in March 2010 but soon made the move permanent following their promotion to the Premier League. His hard work and endearing attitude made him a fan favourite with the Hawthorns faithful and saw him remain with the Baggies until 2014.
Centre Back – Jonas Olsson
Olsson was one of the key components in West Brom’s transformation into a Premier League regular. The Swedish international made over 250 appearances for the Baggies across all competitions, building a reputation as a no-nonsense big man at the heart of Albion’s defence. Alongside Gareth McAuley, he helped establish the club’s best centre-back partnership of the modern era.
Centre Back – Gareth McAuley
The other half of that incredible partnership and perhaps the biggest bargain to ever wear the famous stripes of West Brom. Despite arriving as a free agent at the age of 31, McAuley went on to make over 200 appearances for the Baggies. He was voted Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year after an impressive 2012/2013 campaign.
Left Back – Kieran Gibbs
West Brom signed Gibbs from Arsenal in the final days of the summer 2017 transfer window. He immediately established himself as their first-choice left-back, a position he still holds. Though his time with Albion has been disrupted by a number of injuries, he is widely regarded by fans as a classy player too good for their current tier-two standing.
Right Midfield – Zoltan Gera
Cult hero Zoltan Gera returned to West Brom for a second spell in 2011 having had four seasons with the club from 2004-2008. His return was blighted by injuries but his reputation and quality made him just as popular as in his first spell. Opening the scoring with a volley from 25 yards, leading to a 3–0 win against Liverpool on the opening day of the 2012/2013 season, will live long in the memory.
Centre Midfield – James Morrison
Morrison signed from Middlesbrough for £1.5 million in 2007 and would spend 12 years as a West Brom fan favourite until he announced his retirement from football in October 2019. The Scotland international made over 360 appearances for the Baggies, scoring 39 goals. His ability to score spectacular goals made sure that he will be fondly remembered by most.
Centre Midfield – Youssouf Mulumbu
With more than 200 appearances under his belt, Youssouf Mulumbu endeared himself to the Albion faithful in his six years at The Hawthorns. He made himself a mainstay in the Baggies midfield during that time, scoring 15 goals, as fans affectionately sang that he was “better than Kaka”.
Left Midfield – Chris Brunt
Mr West Bromwich Albion. Baggies legend Chris Brunt is immensely popular with supporters for the outstanding service he has given the club over the past 12 years. He has a left foot so deadly that every set piece became a goal-scoring opportunity and versatility that saw him play in a number of roles. Brunt even managed to land a spot in the top ten for most Premier League assists in the decade alongside some of the biggest names in the division.
Striker – Peter Odemwingie
A hat-trick in West Brom’s 5-1 destruction of local rivals Wolves at the Molineux in 2012 made it impossible to leave Peter Odemwingie out. Scoring 31 goals in 89 appearances made him one of Albion’s most prolific strikers of the decade. Odemwingie remains the club’s record Premier League goalscorer with 30 of his goals coming in the top flight.
Striker – Romelu Lukaku
Just one season on loan at The Hawthorns was enough to see Romelu Lukaku added to this list. Despite being loaned out by the club, Lukaku outscored all of his Chelsea teammates in the Premier League that season, ending the campaign as the sixth-highest goal scorer of the 2012/13 season with 17 goals. This included a perfect hat-trick as West Brom came from three goals down to draw 5–5 in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match as Manchester United manager.