Steve Madeley: West Brom must learn from their mistakes

Albion have got away with murder. Now the Baggies board know they cannot afford to waste their unlikely let-off.

Farewell West Brom: Pepe Mel leaves by mutual consent
Albion will need to learn from their mistakes. Pictured, Pepe Mel who left the club by mutual consent.

Better late than never, the Hawthorns hierarchy are beginning to acknowledge the scale of their annus horribilis and draw up plans to avoid a repeat.

Yet they must also accept that the rebuilding job that lies ahead goes way beyond the dramatic surgery of the squad that will inevitably take place this summer.

They must also find ways of re-engaging with a fanbase more detatched and disaffected than at any stage since the grim days of the early 1990s.

Results, of course, remain the most significant driver of the mood of a club and many of the nagging annoyances that have chipped away at the bond between the club and their fans might have been forgiven or overlooked had the Baggies managed another season like the previous three, when 11th, 10th and eighth-place finishes created a sense of optimism.

But for chairman Jeremy Peace to write off the anger among supporters and their own employees as merely a reaction to one poor season would be to ignore the more fundamental problems that have been exposed by their uncomfortable flirtation with relegation.

In the context of the last 20 years, a 17th-place finish that secured a fifth successive Premier League season represents a solid if underwhelming effort for Albion.

This season, however, feels worse in a number of ways than the relegations in the early years of the club’s Premier League era because of a catalogue of problems on the field and around the training ground.

Many can be traced back to one mistaken decision that, this week, Peace moved quickly to rectify.

The loss of Dan Ashworth to the FA always was always likely to hit Albion hard but their attempt to replace him with Richard Garlick – a talented, hard-working able man but one with little hands-on football experience – compounded the problem.

It created a void of knowledge into which Dave McDonough, the Ashworth-appointed stats-based player analyst, attempted to manoeuvre himself, triggering a host of issues.

The tried and trusted scouting team that was built by Ashworth and which delivered the likes of Youssouf Mulumbu, Peter Odemwingie and Billy Jones in recent seasons, was marginalised in favour of a computer-based approach.

The result was a series of signings last summer and in January that fell spectacularly flat, from Diego Lugano to Matej Vydra to, most baffling of all, Goran Popov, whose shortcomings had already been exposed in a Baggies shirt.

Consequently, the Baggies reverted to the players who had been at the core of their team for several years, leaving the squad painfully weak and the team so obviously stale.

The effects of Ashworth’s departure did not stop there, however.

Players, coaches and scouts had been shielded from the intense politics in other areas of the club by Ashworth’s willingness to draw the poison.

Once he departed, it poured into the ‘football department’ and created fall-outs, disagreements and cliques that undermined a squad already weakened by poor recruitment.

McDonough’s presence was already causing ill-feeling and his championing of Pepe Mel led to an illogical, ill-fated appointment when Steve Clarke’s reign ran out of steam and the Scot was sacked in December.

It also contributed to the conflict between Mel’s tactical plans and his senior players’ beliefs, and clashes between established squad members and the newer recruits.

And it led to a lack of clear leadership that resulted in an inevitable season of struggle. The departure of McDonough began a healing process that continued this week when the hugely popular Terry Burton returned to the club as technical director.

But the task Burton has inherited is a huge one, with as many as 10 new players needed to repair the damage of a demoralising season predicated on a flimsy base made of loanees and free transfers.

And in the background is the public relations disaster that has unfolded alongside the on-field turmoil.

It began with Nicolas Anelka’s threat to retire and proceeded to his ugly ‘quenelle’ controversy and subsequent sacking.

It continued with Saido Berahino’s dressing-room clash with James Morrison and the young striker’s appearance in a national newspaper inhaling nitrous oxide.

And, more crucially, as the horrific season unfolded, the club’s leaders retreated even further into the sidelines.

Peace retained his self-imposed media exile, chief executive Mark Jenkins remained anonymous and Garlick failed to fill the role of footballing spokesman that Ashworth handled so adeptly.

Meanwhile, the decision to ditch the traditional blue and white stripes for next season’s home kit was another indication that the club had lost touch with the feelings of its fanbase.

There was no longer anyone at the top with their finger on the pulse of the Baggies public while the growing strains in relations with Albion’s former players’ association showed an utter lack of understanding of the reasons fans kept turning up.

The apparent lack of interest in the history and traditions of the appreciation of the root of supporters’ loyalty remains a key issue for the club to address.

Too often it seems legends are little more than ‘ex-employees’ while fans are merely customers. That might work in other areas of business but football has always been different – a truth Peace and Co have often struggled to realise.

Having stepped back several years ago and trusted the structure he left behind to keep the club stable, Peace is apparently back to take a hands-on approach to righting the wrongs of the last year.

There is lots to get right to reinvigorate a team and woo back a fanbase that has fallen a little out of love with the object of its passion.

But he will start his task knowing he has had a major break.

Albion have been guilty of horrendous errors and yet, thanks to the failings of others, they avoided relegation.

They have dodged a bullet in a big way. Now they must make the most of their second chance.

Comments for: "Steve Madeley: West Brom must learn from their mistakes"

bob.williamsfindlay

Much of what Madeley wrote I couldn't disagree with; the crucial issue however is, what now?

Stoney Lane

Mr Peace has admitted he lost his way in off-the-record briefings with local journalists. We all hope he gets back on track asap. Success - and failure - always starts at the top. But we can't get away from the fact that the FA asset-stripped WBA. None of the big boys were plundered - just little West Bromwich, the best small-town club in Europe.

The Real Bully Hoo.

Cracking post SL.

Cyril

Bob, we can only move forward. There is no backwards after this season.

Happy_baggie

As one who is quick to moan when stories are made up of falsehood, bias & conjecture to appease our lowly neighbours may I be one of the first to congratulate Steve Madeley on a well written and (as far as I can see) factual summing up of our season.

I recognize the many errors the club have made, and even those they continue to make - but I also see the green shoots of optimism as reflected in this piece - at least the club are moving quickly and appear to be righting some of the wrongs from the last 18 months.

No manager will be everyones choice but with terry Burton on board I feel far more confident - and if he brings a few of the Arsenal kids with him even better,

Covbaggie

Happy, a well thought out and intelligent post yet again, I doth my cap to you.

Boing Boing

Dont Lallytap

Agreed, a season to forget. Like a lot of businesses, there are ups and downs, and disasters? Main thing is, we managed to ratain our status as a Premier League club, and hopefully learn from our mistakes. Do Lallytap, how's it going.The "Committee" are entitled to their opinion, but? So is everyone else who comes on here? they'll just have to get over it. I've more important things in life to worry about than them? Like, what's happening to my football club?

Look forward to the responses, cheers buddy.

Got to say it was spot on.

Quinton Baggie

Got to say it is spot on

SurreyBaggie

A thorough and decent bit of writing which aptly summarised our season and the faults in it. Now that the curtain has descended, and some positive noises and appointments have been made, I am starting to get quite excited about how the next chapter will pad out.

euroboundbaggie

But we don't do we? it is just one mistake after another, what`s going to be next.

Cyril

Well euro, you could stop pretending to be a Baggie for a start.

Amateur Dramatics clubs are looking for play-actors such as you, Alien, Ciderman, Jackett the TW*T, Tim Buzarseglo and you could pretend for real ! On stage. With an audience ! Sheer bliss !

euroboundbaggie

Cyril, you doubt that I am a baggie, you doubt that Claire Astle was man handled, is there anything you don't doubt Cyril. i think your mixing with the wrong cliché, I have noticed that of late your post have turned from being full of wit and worth reading to being nasty and not worth the effort, lets have our old Cyril back please,

Regards

Eurobaggie

Cyril

Euro, I was in Amateur Dramatics and Operatics for many, many years. In all of us is still the child play-acting for FUN. It is a marvellous hobby with the added bonus of the Operatics having ladies doing can-cans and risque dance routines. Quite, quite delightful.

Where it differs from the spies, clowns, nutters who PRETEND to be Baggies on here is the SINCERITY of the performers, giving their GENUINE all for the audience.

Now, I can't begin to imagine what goes through a poster's head, especially at 5am who needs to play 'make-believe' when we can all clearly see what a tool he is. It borders on total crackpot !

Your turn, explain.

euroboundbaggie

Cyril that`s what its like watching us week in week out, Amateur Dramatics, only its not very delightful is it?

The Real Bully Hoo.

Cyril.

I think eurobound has proved you right in the post further down where he calls Billy Jones 'an average left back.' Enough said.

CantelloRocket 78

Cyril & Bully,

Early in the year, a genuine Albion fan said on here he was disappointed with our results, because he hoped we'd challenge for Europe this season-

so our 'squatter' then started calling himself 'euroboundbaggie'-

people were ignoring him, so when 'Inside Man' made a rare appearance, he instantly switched names to 'Man Insider'-

now 'Man Insider' can't get a reaction, he's switched back to 'euro', to get people's attention.

Why anybody should wish to play such childish games is beyond comprehension.......

CantelloRocket 78

p.s.-

by the way, 'eurobound' said 'let's have our old Cyril back'-

Cyril's been on here nearly 10 years, but 'euro' only appeared for the first time a couple of months back-

as usual, he messes up, and shoots himself in the foot........

Ronnie Allen

Cos that's what he is. Some puddins on here thought he was good enough to go to Brazil. They must have meant Brazil the movie.

The View From Baggy Bottom

Can't argue with any of what is said in the article above . It's pretty much a summary of what the majority of intelligent ALBION posters have been saying over the past weeks. We recognise the same shortcomings and failures and we know we have been lucky to get away with it in the season just finished.

The measure of our club will be how we recover and move forward next season. Although the season has only just finished, time is short when there is so much to sort out. Some sense of urgency and a communication of the clubs intent might just go some way towards smoothing the ruffled feathers on our Throstle hearted breasts.

Boing Boing!!

TVFB♥B

simmo54

If there is any truth that Albion are talking to Gera to offer him a new contract then we haven't learned a damn thing. He has been fab - first time around - but too slow, injury prone and over the top now. We need to use the squad place and the salary on somebody else. SIMPLES.

JA

A well written piece which just about sums up our poor season both on and off the field.

We must right all of the wrongs next season, lets start by sitting Billy Jones down and persuading him to stay at the Albion with a three year contract and Premiership type wages to back it up! Billy is one of the few players that we should aim to keep he is still improving and will be even better next season hopefully with the ALBION!!

COYB GO FOR IT NOW!!!!!!!

The Real Bully Hoo.

JA.

I agree about Billy. A friend of mine who is very reliable spoke to him after the game on Sunday and Billy told him that he hadn't talked about a new contract yet but lo and behold, next day it's splashed over the papers that he's rejected one. Sounds like more stirring, probably by the Mirror Group as usual.

Covbaggie

Bully,

Just read on the WBA site that talks are on going, we may indeed persuade Billy to stay.

Boing Boing

euroboundbaggie

Are you saying we should start begging an average left back to stay? if he wants to go let him go, imo I don't think he will ever be half as good as Reid.

Cyril

euro, Billy is an attacking RIGHT wingback of enormous promise, even linked with England at one stage last year. Also Reid was a RIGHT back. As Jimmy Edwards used to say, "Keep Up At The Back There Will You".

Who's Jimmy Edwards ? I give up.

The Real Bully Hoo.

Cyril.

You can hear re-runs of Take It From Here on Radio 4 Extra. They were a bit early for me first time round but have aged well. Still very funny, especially the Glums.

euroboundbaggie

yes he is Cyril, but the fact remains he can`t defend, and when he as been attacking, tell me how many of his attacks have lead to goals, he is that full of promise Leicester are the only club interested in him, as goes for the rest of our players, no interest, doesn't that tell you something?

Cyril

Yes euro, it tells me none of them will end up at The Moulinex because your team is so brilliant they're going to go right up next year as Champions of the Championship, then right up again the following year to top The Prem ! And KJ will be asked to be Prime Minister but he'll turn it down as it isn't as important as being boss of Wolves.

Right Up !

euroboundbaggie

Cyril you not answered me, when did we last score from one of his crosses?

Cheshire Baggie

Well done Steve, spot on with the whole article. I hope that the leadership team at the Baggies read this and take note, not just the loyal bunch that appear on this thread.

COYB

BOING BOING

Streetlybaggie

I made the exact comments by Steve Madeley in December 2013 about the strain in relationships with the board and the supporters club & ex players association even to the point that Mark Jenkins wanted to drop the ex players from telling their stories from years of playing gone by and replace them with local comedians.

They haven't got a clue regarding PR and what the fans want but now people are waking up and seeing them for what they really are even those who squealed 'We wouldn't have a club without them', he saved us from being a Portsmouth.

I was slated by the 'Pro Jeremy Peace could never do nothing wrong brigade' but now they are changing their tune.

Peace is a superb business man and has built the club up with excellent facilities and no debt but his final plans were scuppered when the Financial Fair Play rules came in because he will now find it very difficult to sell the club because any buyer will be limited to what the club can spend.

Now earn your money and make yourself available to your customers before it is too late.

CantelloRocket 78

Streetly,

I read the posts most days, and I can't remember anyone saying JP can do no wrong-

personally, I've praised the guy's achievements - as have you, when you say in this post that he's a superb businessman, who's built the club up, with excellent facilities and no debt - you actually sound quite pro-JP yourself!! - but I've also said more than once that I've never met him, and probably wouldn't want him as a personal friend, because he does come across as a little cold - my Wife's worked for Accountancy firms and major Banks for many years, and I've met many similar guys who have - shall we say - a slight 'shortage' of personality, but I believe JP has shown recent signs of awareness that he's been losing touch within certain areas of the club, and wishes to redress this.

One thing some of us have asked JP's critics is who should replace Jeremy if he stood down, or left the club?

I recently saw Mohammed Al Fayed being interviewed, and he appeared to seriously believe the reason Fulham were relegated was because the statue of Michael Jackson was removed from Craven Cottage, bringing bad fortune to the club -

if that's an example of a modern day Club Owner, I'd have serious fears who might buy the Baggies.....!!!

Pope

I'm sorry Mr Madeley but 10 years of hard work and organisation is not undone in 6 months.

Things need addressing at Albion but rest assured, Mr Peace WILL sort it out. It's why the decision to remove Mel was taken early and to bring Burton back in. It's the begining of the rebuild.

Garlick and the like have been at the club through the good times, lack of experience and having a tough act to follow in Ashworth may have hurt but he is part of a team. Nothing is achieved alone and that is the philosophy at West Bromwich Albion.

We may have to take steps back to move forward but move forward is what we have done over the last decade and i am confident, after this blip, that we will continue to move forward.

WKWWA

pip.smith.1610

Cannot believe you can be serious about WBA and then in the same breath say we wont keep Jones but will give Gera another contract........why not go to any A P Home and sign the lot and save lots of money.....its a joke

Cyril

How about this then ? I took a pile of rubbish to Walsall tip this afternoon and although I didn't want to, I included many Albion News from way back and an LP of the 68 Cup Final. I kept them separate in case I changed my mind. No need to worry. One employee had the disc, one customer had the paper stuff and delighted they were.

Covbaggie

Cyril,

I bet these guys thought you were Clint Eastwood, Go Ahead Son Make My Day !! and you did, well done!!

Boing Boing

Cyril

Cov and Cape, you've no idea how it hurt deciding they had to go. I wrestled with my conscience for ages. But the pleasure on their faces and I knew it was right.

The one bloke said, "Do you remember a kid named Burrows ?" "Yes, left back, went to Liverpool". We began showing off by then.

capehill

Good job Cyril, you gave it away, because the Stafford bin dippers would of been their straight away, and imagine if Tnuc the hat would off got in the bin to scavenge, god forbid the cost of tax payers money to hire a crane

THEGREENMAN

Very good article as most people have said. I agree with JA and we do need to get to grips with the want away players ASAP. Not only Jones but Mulumbu as well, and TB must sort out Berahino and get back on track. Over to Mr Peace now to get us the right coach/players and maybe a bit of luck for next season. SIMPLES

colindbaggie

Totally agree i posted similar the other day get rid of wantaway players so when the new manager/coach arrives he is only working with players with 100% commitment to the cause.

OAB AAB

capehill

Streetly, I concur, however Steve Madelys just stating the obvious, we all know this, but arnt we more interested to resolve these issues. We are not a sinking ship, far from it. We are in the best league in the world, by the skin of our teeth,I must admit. We have good academy ( but players we cant keep) a decent squad, etc. However all this can be sorted soon. I just wish the board would say something about what will happen, to acknowledge the fact, that the club also does have fans. Any comments, (Baggies only)

simmo54

Right Capey - My thoughts

Stability is what we need. The next manager has to be tailor made for us - not a yes man, but an achiever. Get the results on the pitch and have JP eating out of HIS hand. The right appointment and be given both the backing and time. Rid the club of those who don't want to play and get in people who are hungry and want to wear the shirt with pride and passion. No easy task.

The Real Bully Hoo.

Capey.

And we must find a way to stop referees giving those ridiculous penalty decisions against us.

I know people will say we can't keep going on about them and swings and roundabouts and all that but they have cost us at least 12 points this season.

12 points would have slotted us into 11th place behind Newcastle but it isn't just that, if we'd been comfortably mid-table all season there wouldn't have been the back biting on the pitch, in the dressing room and on the terraces. It's been a bad season on many fronts but being at the bottom of the table has added to the pressure and the feeling of despondency.

The one good thing to come of it may be that we've survived but it's rattled a few cages.

bob.williamsfindlay

Just read the current list of departures and none are surprising; Brunt and Dorrans are to stay, with Jones still in negotiations. Looks as if things are moving ....

Jack the Hat

Madeley has ridiculed, down trod, rubbished and has been revolting towards my club during the season. This was done in my opinion to boost the club his paper champions to make their fans feel better after the now famous Double Drop. This blog must have been a joy for him to write.

Put that in your paper Madeley.

Gripe over.

BOING~~~~BOING~~~~J♣H.

capehill

Simmo, got to agree, but like u say no easy task, players ain't cheap, so maybe some of our excellent youths from the academy, we could take a leaf out Roy's book, blood the nippers. Bully ,the refs ,well we've been moaning about them all season. Glenn hoddle said against Westham , if things had gone our way, and we'ed held onto leads ours would have been a euro spot.

16 draws I wonder if that's a prem record. Anyone know? Goal line tech has now been in , I don't think it picked out many contentious efforts, as opposed to what loads of us have been saying on here reference the fourth official, if the ref is not sure , stop the game for 10 secs, get the officials opinion on the replay, job done. Why can't the FA do this, is it a financial issue¿ It has cost us dear, ask Howard Webb, and his boss mike Riley, they know it.

Pope

Mr Madeley, i'm afraid i cannot agree with you. The club has been progressing on and off the field, steadily over the last decade under Mr Peace's stewardship. Only the last 18 months have seen us stall somewhat. Albion have been built on a philosophy that its a team effort. Mistakes have been made and will continue to be made, that is inevitable but to paint such a dour picture of West Bromwich Albion is a great injustice to those that have worked so hard to establish us where we are. Gary Megson was a hard act to follow as a manager but we eventually got Hodgson. Dan Ashworth has proven just as hard to follow but Mr Garlick has bee at the club some time and whilst may not be as successful as Ashworth, one must remember niether was Dan at the begining. I am confident that JP will sort it out, he has not let us down yet.

WKWWA

Ronnie Allen

Let's get rid of Brunt. What did he bring to the party this season? He is the reason why Dorrans thought, what is wrong with this club? I am 10 times more gifted than that twit and I can't get a game.

Bin the puddin. And useless as Captain. Characterless. Like lots of the dumplins on here.

Lets get Ken Dodd in to help.

Cyril

Doddie won't help us Dolly. He's a Lancashire Lad just like Bob the Builder. His heart belongs to Liddypol, just like Bob The Builder.

You can't beat Northerners though for value for their cash and that I do admire. Even Arkwright of 'Open All Hours' was impressed when Bob The Builder got all of the Moulinex and the staff and a few 'footballers' for £10. He didn't stay impressed too long and Granville said he couldn't clean up THAT mess with just a soft leather cloth. Then luckily a bloke came in and used his Jackett !

CantelloRocket 78

Cyril,

Solid, Chief-

Knittin' needles-

I'm off to eat a pie-

Walkin' round Benidorm in a 'kiss me quick' hat, Union Jack shorts, socks and sandals-

Wish you were here-

Signed Dolly Alien.

I'm mad, me - propa crazeee - couldn't tek me anywhere, a? a?........

Ronnie Allen

The Cant is on the pop by the looks of this tripe. Cant you cant do that you cant can you.

Canty were you the front end or the back end of that horse wi The Major when he was givin it Ralph Richardson?? And I bet if we could have banged you 2 together it would have made the sound of a coconut. A hollow one.

Brunt is rubbish. Only you 2 and Jack Douglas think he can play.

CantelloRocket 78

Retired an' livin' in the sun-

Turn up and tell yow lot wot puddin's yow am-

Had another cool 'un in me shorts-

Eat another pie-

Think I'm clever, keep lookin' up knittin' sites-

Zany comedian me, just like that Sarah Milligan of the Goons-

Like to dish it out, but get stroppy when I get it back-

signed Dolly Alien,

wish somebody was here......

Cyril

Rocket, your summary on Dolly wasn't there, so I wound myself up for a reply. Then, lo and behold, you got him, straight between the eyes. Saves me wasting ripe fruit on him.

euroboundbaggie

First and second mistake already, keeping Brunt and Morrison.

Ronnie Allen

Agree chief. Pair of puddins past their sell by date. Bit like Canty and The Major.

stubby

Good post, Only time will tell if J.P has learned from the many mistakes of last season. The proposed kit design backlash will seem trivial compared to the backlash that will come if he appoints D.J as the next manager. I guess we'll soon find out.

THEGREENMAN

Only been posting on here for a few days and there are some excellent comments put forward from many, many true West Brom supporters like myself. Then there are the idiotic,brainless morons who try to fool intelligent people into thinking they are supporters too. But I suppose it must be very boring posting to there other 7 or 8 mates on there own site continually bumming each other up that they support a top class team. Roll on next season when they start their yoyo adventure between the chumpionship and the depths of league one.

Cyril

Welcome Greenman. As Rocket says higher up, I've been on this site for ever, but it's recently that the Trolls have become so annoying. If they become so arrogant after winning Div 3, can you imagine what they could be like should they be successful in the season to come ? I've no axe to grind with REAL WULFIES, Villans, Blue-Noses, Saddlers, etc. and am more than happy when the West Midlands is on the up. It is the close season though and it can be fun puncturing Troll egos. Beats shooting Grouse.

capehill

Cantello please m8, I know yowm passing time, but for god sake stop it. " Turn up and tell yow lot wot puddin's yow am-.

that is a few nights now, on the row, that ive tried to explain to me Mrs, why im crying with lafter, she don't understand.

Fantastic, they just keep coming back for more. I must admit crying with lafter at their expense, we don't even have to pay for it. Even cyrils exchanging banter and lovin it. Bring on the clowns.

THEGREENMAN

Cyril and capehill.

As much as I loathe the brainless wulfies it is so hysterical to see them making complete and utter idiots of themselves. Like most of the genuine posters on here I have mates from all the midlands clubs and the banter is great, and that's how it should be. You just have to treat the morons with the contempt they deserve so keep up the good work.