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Feature: Boinging Baggies bounce back up to the Premier League

22 July 2020

Play-Off defeats are never easy to take. Whether it’s in the Semi-Finals or the Final itself, the lasting effects can be difficult for a side to overcome for a long time.

But this season has been different in the Sky Bet Championship; we have already seen Leeds United crowned champions after battling back from their Play-Off Semi-Final to Derby County last campaign.

And this will not be the first season where West Bromwich Albion have bounced back after disappointment the season before.

Thirteen years ago, the Baggies were beaten by Billy Davies’ Derby County at a packed-out Wembley Stadium, Stephen Pearson breaking the hearts of those from the West Midlands that day.

But all was not lost for Tony Mowbray’s men after that defeat. They got back up off the canvas, dusted themselves down and came back with a vengeance.

Some 46 games later, they were crowned champions of the Championship, with 81 points to their name and league high of 88 goals scored - 22 of those netted by legendary striker Kevin Phillips.

Fast-forward to the present day and the Baggies have done it again.

Last season’s Play-Off Semi-Final penalty shootout defeat to rivals Aston Villa was a sore one, especially as the Villa would eventually go on to achieve promotion.

West Brom set about rebuilding under a new manager, the experienced Slaven Bilic, who has worked wonders at The Hawthorns this season.

Five players for just over 10-and-a-half million pounds have been instrumental in West Brom’s rise up the table.

Semi Ajayi has turned into one of the best central defenders in the division this season; a player who only cost £1.5 million for Rotherham United, his commanding performances at the back should not be underestimated.

Romaine Sawyers arrived for just under £3 million, and created a foundation to build on in the middle of the park, alongside Jake Livermore.

But the players who have not cost the Baggies a penny have been shown their Premier League quality - the likes of Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira.

The former is actually on-loan from Premier League side West Ham United, and will have undoubtedly impressed Hammers boss David Moyes. He’s a player that could be a huge boost to their ranks next season.

But Pereira has been a class above. The Brazilian has shown in abundance that South American flair which we have come accustomed to over the years watching the beautiful game.

With 16 assists in 42 appearances, the 23-year-old might have played a huge part in helping his parent club Sporting CP to their first title since 2002.

But with the Albion now in the Premier League, and with his loan deal made permanent, it is at the Hawthorns where he will look to continue to impress. 

A lot has changed in England’s highest division since their last season in the top flight in the 2016/2017 season. 

The last time West Brom visited Anfield, the home of the now-Premier League champions, Liverpool, they managed to leave with a point after a goalless draw.

The Reds finished in fourth place that season - 25 points behind top spot, which was occupied by Manchester City.

It still remains to be seen who will join the Whites and the Baggies in the top tier of English football next season but, whoever it may be, they’ll know that they are in for another tough journey. 

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