THE MIDLANDER: It could be another window of missed opportunity for West Brom as relegation looms

04 February 2011 02:39
Hands up all those who remember Iffy Udeze? No? Didn't think so.

The Nigerian's arrival was WBA's first foray into the transferwindow since their arrival in the Barclays Premier League. Sadly forIffy, he lived up to his name.

The only point of note about him was his touchline ruck with thenboss Gary Megson at Southampton. His only appearance these days is in'All-time worst XI' on supporters' message-board forums. It was aninauspicious start for the Hawthorns' hierarchy.

Now, before I embark on the main point of this week's Midlander, canI just say that I would be marked down as a raging hypocrite if Idismantled that which I praised earlier this season.

Pick of the mix: Youssouf Mulumbu has made a good contribution since joining West Brom for ?275,000 in 2009

There is a lot to admire at the club. The academy appears to be more healthily-stocked than it has been for years.

The director of football role, managed by Dan Ashworth, seems to beworking more effectively in B71 than anywhere else - mainly because theowner is committed to the idea.

Yet I can't help but feel that when the window opens, a gust of windblows in and the players' reports are blown to all four corners,Baggies' officials running hither and thither in a desperate chase.Let's look at the evidence.

In the first window, against a backdrop of political in-fightingbetween the chairman and manager, Udeze was the only arrival. Well,Spanish defender Roberto Rios would have turned up, had he not decidedthat retirement was a preferable alternative.

After West Brom's first adventure ended in tears, Bryan Robson wasin charge during the year of the 'Great Escape.' On this occasion,their efforts bore reward.

Without the arrival of Kieron Richardson - which was probably downto Robson's relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson more than anything else- there would have been no escape, 'great' or otherwise.

To supplement Richardson, Kevin Campbell's presence was a welcomeand respected voice in the dressing-room. Richard Chaplow also came for?1.5m.

The midfielder's career never really got started at the Hawthornsbut the majority of that money was re-couped. A failure of sorts, butno-one shouted up that it was a bad purchase at the time, if memoryserves.

  More from Neil Moxley. The Midlander: Blues must stand by McLeish. the glue holding it together28/01/11 The Midlander: Villa fans don't doubt 64-carat owner Lerner. he DOES care19/01/11 The Midlander: Any more of this and Villa will slide out of the trapdoor06/01/11 The Midlander: Winter of discontent beckons for Birmingham City16/12/10 The Midlander: Gerard Houllier is left fighting a losing battle after his own goal at Anfield10/12/10 The Midlander: Carling Cup win would be FAN-tastic but try telling McLeish02/12/10 The Midlander: Nigel Clough may be the son of Brian but he's his own man25/11/10 THE MIDLANDER: Forget United. England's real academy is at Villa18/11/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE So, West Brom were successful in the window, adding at least twoplayers who made a difference, and they stayed up, albeit by the skinof their teeth. The season following 'Survival Sunday' was a classic,though.

Slovakian international Jan Kozak (Artmedia Bratislava) is slightlyless memorable than Williams Martinez. (Defensor Sporting - Uruguay,since you ask)

Nigel Quashie completed his entrance into the quiz books by managingto add West Brom to the list of clubs he has been relegated with aftera ?1.2m move. But most interesting on that occasion are the ones thatgot away.

Rob Earnshaw was sold for Norwich for ?3.5m. Geoff Horsfield shippedout on loan to Sheffield United. Moreover, there were deals to be donefor Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Ugo Ehiogu that foundered at the finalhurdle.

Why? Well the picture is murky but if you speak to the formermanager in a quiet moment, he will point to that moment as thebeginning of the end for him. So, after an up and down couple of yearswe come to Tony Mowbray's shot at trying to improve matters.

Jay Simpson arrived with a bang from Arsenal and left with awhimper. Juan Carlos Mensenguez (Argentina, since you ask) did likewisebefore disappearing from view altogether.

The jury remains out on Marc-Antoine Fortune - his second goal thisseason against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night isn't overwhelmingevidence of his success, I'm afraid.

But you have to concede that out of all the work the club has donethe ?275,000 spent on Youssouf Mulumbu is the pick of them. Fair enough.

New arrival: But only time will tell if Carlos Vela can make an impact at the Hawthorns after his January switch

And so we come to the closure of this window. Carlos Vela fromArsenal is the one who has arrived. First-class pedigree. Only timewill tell which list he will be added to. Moreover, is it sufficient?

Again there are tales of those who got away. Chelsea's Jeffrey Brumaand Daniel Sturridge. And a link to an unproven Cameroon internationalat Hamburg, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.

I'm not, you will note, criticising last year's summer work. Therehas also been transfer activity in the past that has reaped huge reward- such as Curtis Davies, Jason Koumas and Diomansy Kamara. (Themuch-maligned Robson managed to turn a huge profit on those three.)

Other successes - like Peter Odemwingie - who pound-for-pound couldturn out to be the most valuable forward in the Barclays Premier Leaguecome May, was little short of a masterstroke.

It is a difficult balancing act. In mid-December, when transferwindow plans were probably being formulated, who was to know thatdefeat at Villa Park would precipitate a slump in form of such severitythat West Brom are now, very nervously, looking over their shoulders?

One that got away: Will West Brom end up regretting not signing players such as Daniel Sturridge in January?

Having said that, they also looked a far more healthy prospect forany would-be arrivals. West Brom's hierarchy cannot have it both ways.They can't say it is difficult to attract players to a struggling club- they weren't at the time.

However, January is a moveable feast. Stories emerge every day aboutlinks being made, moves falling through and all the rest of it. I wouldestimate that around one-tenth of the calls between clubs are reported.

But the facts of the matter are these. After nine matches, West Bromwere sitting in sixth position with 15 points to their credit.

After another 15 matches, they have collected just 11 points. Idon't need to point out to anyone, but I'm going to have to - that'srelegation form.

I really hope I'm wrong. But it's increasingly looking like the twoBlack Country derbies are now of such magnitude that they will eithersave West Brom's season and demote Wolves, or else give Mick McCarthy alate shot at redemption.

And I wonder, if the latter turns out to be the case, whether theBaggies will look back on this - somewhat forlornly - as another windowof missed opportunity.

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 Explore more:People: Kieron Richardson, Alex Ferguson, Tony Mowbray, Mick McCarthy, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Jay Simpson, Ugo Ehiogu, Gary Megson, Carlos Vela, Bryan Robson Places: Norwich, Argentina, Cameroon

Source: Daily_Mail