Mulumbu, Barnes, Gera, Greening – Chris Brunt's top West Brom midfielders

Albion great Chris Brunt has shared his favourite players to wear the blue and white stripes – and today he looks at the top midfielders and forwards from his time at The Hawthorns.

Brunt has a special place in the hearts of all Albion fans for the outstanding service he gave the club between 2007 and 2020 and he spoke exclusively to the Express & Star’s Baggies Broadcast podcast this week.

After revealing his pick of the top goalkeepers and defenders yesterday, here he details which midfielders Brunt choose – with James Morrison, Zoltan Gera, Jonathan Greening, Youssouf Mulumbu, Harvey Barnes, Robert Koren, Matt Phillips, Gareth Barry and Graham Dorrans getting the nod.

Explaining some of his decisions, Brunt joked: “I’ve not got many defensive- minded players – we’ll base the midfield on Tony Mowbray rather than Tony Pulis.

“Harvey Barnes has to be in – he is one of the best I’ve seen.

“My agent company looked after him when he came on loan and my agent called me and asked if I could look after him. I said ‘yeah, no worries’.

“Then two weeks later he had scored four goals and was absolutely running the show. I phoned him back and said ‘I think he is going to be alright’.

“I don’t like saying one player can make a difference but I think if he had stayed with us we would have got promoted automatically that year.

“I’m glad he has gone back to Leicester and done so well because that would have been a real kick in the teeth for us and him if he had gone back and not played.

“But he has gone from strength to strength under Brendan Rodgers.”

Fan-favourite Gera was another player Brunt included with the Hungarian known as one of the nicest guys in football. “Zoltan is the nicest fella in the world – he is such a great guy,” the former Northern Ireland international continued.

“All the lads used to wind him up but he never rose to anything, he never got angry. The first season he was here he was brilliant. We created a lot and he scored a lot of goals.

“I really enjoyed playing with him because I was on one side and I knew if I crossed it there was a fair chance he would get on the end of it. It’s just really disappointing he got the injuries he did because he had such a big impact on our squad and around the club. We loved him and would do anything for him.”

Brunt revealed Mulumbu was also a model pro – except when it came to the first day of pre-season.

“Nobody had heard of Youssouf when Tony Mowbray signed him,” he said.

“In the first few weeks in training we were looking at him and thinking he’s not great him, he’s not going to play. Then he got in the team and never looked back. He was a top, top, player.

“The lads really appreciated playing with him because he did all the little things that maybe you wouldn’t notice.

“He would always keep the ball and get you up the pitch.

“I remember Gareth McAuley saying it didn’t matter how much pressure you were under – you could give Youssouf the ball and he would manage to wriggle his way out of it.

“He was a pretty relaxed character. But one thing I always remember, every pre-season he used to sit in his car on the first day back and not come into training until they had sorted out a new contract for him.

“He used to do it every year. He would say ‘I’m not coming in until I get my contract’. Then about two hours later they’d give him one and he’d come in.

“That wasn’t really like him, it was the only time of year he caused anyone any trouble.

“He came from PSG’s reserves so I would imagine we got him pretty cheap. And his wages probably matched that – but he deserved every penny of it he was a top player.”

Brunt also explained why he plumped for Greening and Koren.

“Johnno is not the brightest – I think that’s quite well-known,” Brunt said.

“Him and Liam Ridgewell would have some great general knowledge games on the team bus.

“But he is a real down to earth normal lad and really looked after me and Mozza (Morrison) when we first joined.

“He was a top player as well. That first season in the Championship, he ran the show from midfield. Whenever you watch Jonathan Greening on highlights, you see him go down the wing and he’s about to cross it and then he chops back. And then he chops back again.

“Everybody in the stadium knew he as going to do it. But everybody always fell for it, even in training.

“But we used to call him jigsaw because in training he would score about 25 goals then when we got to a game he would go to pieces.”

On Koren, Brunt said: “I think he’s gone under a lot of people’s radar. Mowbray plucked a few people from the unknown and he was another one.

“He was a really good player for those couple of seasons – the two seasons we got promoted and the one season in the Premier League.

“I’ve picked him purely for football reasons, he was a quiet lad and I really enjoyed playing with him.”

Brunt also included close pal and fellow Baggies legend Morrison.

“I had to didn’t I,” he added. “I couldn’t leave him out – that would have killed him.”

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