Shropshire Star

West Brom's season so far: Carlos Corberan lifted the Baggies after a campaign of misery

Albion face the long haul up to the north east on a winter's Monday night to tackle Sunderland when their Championship campaign resumes after the World Cup.


New head coach Carlos Corberan will hope his side can continue their momentum of three straight wins from before the break, which saw the Baggies start a recovery from a miserable opening to the season under Steve Bruce.

Here is the story of the season so far:

The highs

Top of Albion's list of highlights this season has to be the appointment of Spaniard Corberan.

The 39-year-old has been able to achieve exactly what the club craved in the very short term, which was to lift Albion clear of the relegation zone as soon as possible and begin to change the outlook on the season.

Prior to his arrival at the end of October there were precious few highs. The campaign started in bleak fashion under Steve Bruce and failed to improve, there were even cracks in the ex-boss' sole league win. Indeed by the end of Bruce's reign Albion were staring into the very real prospect of the season becoming an unthinkable relegation scrap.

Glints of sunlight appeared in caretaker Richard Beale's spell, notably a useful away win at Reading, inspired by academy graduates, notably Taylor Gardner-Hickman.

Former Huddersfield boss Corberan has since led Albion to three wins from three, with the previous two outings at QPR and against Stoke, 1-0 and 2-0 victories respectively, particularly impressive.

The lows

There have been lows aplenty.

Baggies supporters will hardly dare look back at the beginning of the 2022/23 campaign, a period of a few months best forgotten about and hopefully only noted in the record books as the prequel to a glorious Corberan-inspired recovery.

For those that dare to relive some of the dark days and nights, there can be no question it was truly the beginning of the for Bruce in the home midweek derby day defeat to his former employers Blues.

The Kyle Bartley-led disaster saw fans publicly turn on the boss – and defender – and a recovery for Bruce was a bridge way too far.

There were other truly insipid displays, Swansea at home – another 3-2 defeat where Albion somehow conspired to lose – and miserable defeats to Preston and Bristol City all in the matter of a few glum, apathetic weeks of rudderless action.

Star performer

Albion's best performers have undoubtedly come from the flanks this term.

For the most part Jed Wallace has flown down the right wing to good effect. His relentless energy is infectious and made the winger an immediate hit with The Hawthorns faithful.

Wallace has shown over the years with Millwall just what crossing ability he possesses and it has been on show in fits and starts in blue and white. The consistency will come with more of a threat in the box as Wallace has too often been ploughing a lone role in attack.

Opposite winger Grady Diangana began the season in electric form – Bruce deserving credit for re-igniting that – and has been very effective in spells but has gone off the boil as the season progressed. Corberan will hope the left winger can spark back into top gear to help the Baggies' balance.

What needs to improve

Albion's frontline is, without doubt, the area that must be addressed and improved on.

Karlan Grant has led the line for the most part and managed four goals in all competitions – three in the league – three the same total managed by new boy Brandon Thomas-Asante.

A big hope rests on the shoulder of Daryl Dike. The United States international frontman, 22, has endured an injury nightmare since his switch to the Black Country and now he must stay injury-free to influence the side for a first time following the £7million January move.

Albion simply had to improve their defensive record upon Corberan's arrival and, to the head coach's credit, three shutouts on the spin has been an immense return and provided a big platform for the victories.

Target for the rest of the season

Primarily the aim is to continue the good form and push further from drop zone towards mid-table

Albion, through Corberan, the board and recruitment departments, must get the January transfer window right with a couple of crucial additions to push towards those sides battling for play-offs.

Somehow, it is still possible for this team. The club must do everything within their capability to sneak into that fight for promotion.

There are, as always, off-field factors that will dictate the success – or lack of – on the field. And prior to the January window is the latest deadline for owner Guochuan Lai to repay the £5m loan he took out of the club. Corberan, you would wager, would have guarantees or promises of reinforcements come the new year.

Lewis Cox's final position prediction – 6th