After narrowly missing out on a play-off place last season, West Bromwich Albion will have aspirations of reaching the promised land of the Premier League, as the 2023/24 Sky Bet Championship dawns upon us.
Financial troubles, ownership issues, and disappointing performances overshadowed the Carlos Corberán revolution at The Hawthorns last season, as the Spanish manager saw his side miss out on a play-off spot on the last day of the season in a 3-2 loss to Swansea City.
During the encounter in Wales, Albion were in the top six for four minutes, as they relied on results elsewhere across the division. Ultimately, the Baggies fell to defeat regardless in the last minute courtesy of a Joel Piroe free-kick.
The stripes commenced last season in poor form, and found themselves rock bottom of the table after 17 games. Consequently, Steve Bruce was sacked, and in came Corberán, who brought a smile back to the faces of the Hawthorns faithful and lead his men to nine wins from ten league fixtures in the early stages of his tenure.
The 40-year-old quickly became a fan's favourite, and was widely regarded as West Brom's biggest asset.
His time on B71 grabbed the attention of other sides, but much to the delight of all at the club, he signed a contract extension keeping him at the club until the Summer of 2027.
With Corberán at the helm, Albion are certainly in good hands as the new season approaches; and it will be exciting to see what he can do with a full season under his belt.
Ins and Outs
The departure of club captain and academy graduate, Dara O'Shea, will be a big loss for the Baggies, who lost their leader to newly promoted Burnley.
The chance to play top flight football and work with legendary defender, Vincent Kompany, was enough to draw the Republic of Ireland international to Turf Moor, with his former side receiving £7million for his signature.
Centre-back is a position that Albion possess strong depth in though, with another academy graduate, Caleb Taylor expected to play a crucial role in the stripes' backline for the forthcoming campaign.
The 20-year-old spent last season on-loan at Cheltenham Town, where he acquired very positive reviews and gained senior experience under his belt, featuring in 36 league games.
Erik Pieters signed a one-year extension after a solid debut season in the Black Country. The defender will add depth to Albion's backline and despite probably not featuring as much next season, offers a solid option from the bench.
Alex Mowatt is another player returning from loan that could well be in Corberán's plans for the upcoming promotion push. The midfielder has impressed in pre-season and completed some solid displays whilst at Middlesbrough last season.
With the lack of funds being a key problem at the club, fringe players from the academy like Tom Fellows could definitely make a breakthrough this campaign. The young winger has caught the eye in pre-season and will be hopeful of making his mark at the club he has been with since the age of nine.
The forward struggled last season and fell out of favour with Corberán and fans. A return of three goals simply was not good enough from the man who reportedly cost £15million.
Despite scoring 18 goals as West Brom returned to the Championship in 2021/22, Grant has been shipped out to Cardiff to free up wages.
Livermore has now reunited with ex-Baggies boss Valerien Ismael at Watford, and bid an emotional farewell to the club as the season drew to a close.
Rogic showed flashes of quality last season, but was too inconsistent and failed to cement a place in the starting eleven. The latter spent his Albion career on the side-lines due to sustaining serious injuries that ruled him out for several months, leading him to only feature on three occasions.
The Ecuador international made 12 appearances in the blue and white stripes of Brighton last season, and will aim to light up the second tier in the stripes of West Brom.
Promotion or Bust?
Since the Chinese businessman bought the club for £200million in 2016, Albion have massively declined. Lai lost the faith of the fans after taking large sums of money out of the football club and taking out loans to aid the club's finances.
The main problem being, that this money has not been recovered or repaid.
A lack of communication from Lai and his associates has built up frustration amongst West Brom fans, who have turned to peaceful protests consisting of shining a light in significant minutes of matches, and marching to games in protest of the ownership issues surrounding the Black Country outfit.
The upcoming season will be the first season that Albion have not received any payment from the Premier League in over a decade, with fears growing over the club's sustainability and long-term future.
This year really could be promotion or bust for the Baggies, who may require a 'fire sale' of star players if their goals are not reached to fund the long-term status of the club.
Strongest Starting XI
(4-2-3-1) Palmer, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend, Molumby, Yokuslu, Swift, Wallace, Sarmiento, Thomas-Asante.
West Brom boast some quality players amongst their ranks, with homegrown shot-stopper Alex Palmer, wing-wizard Jed Wallace, a midfield pairing of the relentless Jayson Molumby and star player Okay Yokuslu just some of the big names at the club.