Shropshire Star

West Brom season review as big changes lined up at The Hawthorns

It was a case of admirable consistency but not enough to go all the way for Albion and Carlos Corberan this season.

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The head coach’s first full campaign in charge at The Hawthorns took the Baggies to the play-off semi-final, where eventual promotion-winners Southampton proved too strong. We address five key segments of Albion’s 2023/24 campaign with the final word on the season.

Successes

Taking the squad into the play-offs has to be deemed a success. Albion stood firm for the most part over the course of seven months to keep the dream of promotion to the Premier League alive well into May.

Few truly fancied Corberan’s side to have a genuine crack at promotion, perhaps only the Spaniard’s efforts the previous season pointed to a possibility. Albion’s squad was an ageing one built by several managers, with a number of players coming towards the end of their time at the club.

The key to the team’s success was a solid rearguard. Albion led the way for clean sheets for most of the campaign as, for the most part, goalkeeper Alex Palmer and the dependable defensive unit of Cedric Kipre, Kyle Bartley, Darnell Furlong and Conor Townsend held strong. Shutouts were initially tough to come by until late September but between then and the new year, aided by a tactical switch, the Baggies were more or less impenetrable. The goals against column was only bettered by Leicester and Leeds overall. A January sprinkle of magic dust from Mikey Johnston, the post-AFCON form of Grady Diangana and emergence of starlet Tom Fellows kept the side firing despite faltering away form and a leakier defence. Albion longed for a striker with hardly any available and while other attackers helped – it just wasn’t enough.

Failures

Having achieved a fifth-placed finish after holding on to the position for so long and finding themselves some way short of Leeds and Southampton above them, a play-off defeat could never be deemed a failure.

In isolation, Corberan’s side failed to show up in the semi-final second leg at St Mary’s. Prior to that Albion threatened to limp over the line with three straight defeats towards the end of the campaign.