• Hyypia's Albion being built upon solid foundations

    Amongst the proclamations of a return to lower league football after the Albion's Championship campaign started with two consecutive defeats, focus concentrated on the lack of cutting edge and, frankly, just who would score the goals with Leonardo Ulloa now a Premier League player at Leicester City.

    Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat of Leeds has brought a semblance of calm back to those following the Albion and Saturday's visit of Bolton is now viewed with optimism rather than trepidation.

    Concern at the strength of Albion's attack are well-founded. Albion scored 55 league goals last term, but 38 of those goals came from players no longer at the club. Removing those players from last season's goal chart would leave Andrew Crofts as the top scorer, with 5 goals, followed by Jake Forster-Caskey with a modest 3.

    Moves are being made to address that - Joao Teixeira brings a bundle of attacking tricks with him that should help Albion's strike force and, as he illustrated at Elland Road, he knows where the goal is too. The mercurial Paddy McCourt is another signing who, when in possession, will be looking to create for others whilst chipping in with the odd goal himself.

    One if not two out and out goalscorers are also likely to be brought in to assist Craig Mackail-Smith and Chris O'Grady who only have one goal, a CMS strike against League Two Cheltenham in the Capital One Cup, to show for their combined efforts thus far.

    If a team doesn't score goals, it doesn't win games - that's the way it works. However, if a team doesn't concede goals, it doesn't lose games and in looking at Albion's attacking woes, little credit has been given to an Albion defence that looks to be as equally miserly as that which was the bedrock for Oscar Garcia's side reaching the play-offs.

    It is far too early to draw any conclusions from a handful of early season games, but it is already the case that only two teams - Millwall and Wolves - have conceded fewer goals than the Albion's two.

    There can not be many Albion defenders over the years with a better defensive record than current skipper Gordon Greer. Since moving across from Swindon he has been ever-present, injury and suspensions aside, and marshalled the Albion defence in snuffing out many a potent attacking force. Aaron Hughes replaces Matthew Upson as the experienced old-hand alongside him and Lewis Dunk is a more than adequate alternative, with the potential to be an Albion first-teamer for the next ten years.

    The experienced Spaniards Bruno and the much-loved Calderon share duties at right-back, with the latter currently preferred as Bruno takes a more advanced role in midfield. Both like to get forward to create and score, which is exactly what new boss Sami Hyypia demands.

    At left-back, Adam Chicksen shows promise, but is not the finished article. He will face stiff competition for the shirt soon, with the anticipated arrival of a more experienced player with Premier League experience.

    Behind all of these sits new arrival David Stockdale who is already shaping up to be a great acquisition, replacing Pole Tomasz Kuszczak who, since being released by the Albion, has yet to find another club.

    It was a degree of good fortune that Hyypia inherited a well-drilled defence, with Hughes dropping straight in to fill one of the two obvious holes, but it will be no surprise that the central defender who represented Liverpool for ten seasons, and earned 105 caps for Finland has already got Albion's defence looking tight and miserly.

    Albion fans will be hoping it is a case of 'when' not 'if' more attacking options arrive at The Amex but, when they do, the foundation of Albion's solid defence should see fans looking up the table rather than having to make worried glances down.

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    Comments 3 Comments
    1. TSB's Avatar
      TSB -
      Spot on
    1. Seagull Steve's Avatar
      Seagull Steve -
      That sums the situation up nicely.
    1. LamieRobertson's Avatar
      LamieRobertson -
      Ditto
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