The topic i want to write about in my blog this week is how certain teams such as Swansea and more closely West Bromwich Albion are using the small amount of money they have very wisely to form competitive and exciting Premier League teams. I decided to write this blog was a statistic that i saw on Sunday and statistics don't usually mean anything in football apart from the amount of goals you score in a game but this one was so staggering and it looked at the price of West Brom's team compared to the price of Liverpool's.
Liverpool's starting 11 on Saturday cost 171.8m (without even adding on the combined £55million of Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson) compared to West Brom's 22.3m, this a stat that surely should prove that the scoreline between the two teams shouldn't have ended West Brom 3 - Liverpool 0 but there is a lot more to it than that when you delve further into how West Bromwich Albion approach their business. They employ a Sporting and Technical Director, his name is Dan Ashworth who was appointed in 2007 having previously been the Academy Director. Ashworth is the man in charge of scouting at the club and is reported to attend roughly 300 live games per season scouting players. He has unearthed such gems such as Jonas Olsson, Peter Odemwingie, Graham Dorrans and Youssouf Mulumbu who are all now experienced Premier League players for the combined price of just over £3million.
After West Brom's 3-0 demolition of Liverpool, Rory Smith of The Times tweeted that; Mulumbu is the the most underrated player in Premier League and claimed he was a better footballer than Alex Song, who has just completed his move to arguably the best club side in world football, Barcelona. Also on Sunday, several journalists were also quickly to praise one of Ashworth's latest gems, Claudio Yacob, an Argentinian international defensive midfielder on a free transfer who looked outstanding against Liverpool alongside Youssouf Mulumbu and James Morrison.
The midfield 3 of West Brom controlled the game and looked miles better than Liverpool's midfield three of highly rated Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva, £15 million pound Team GB midfielder Joe Allen and England captain Steven Gerrard. Yacob ended the game with a 96% pass completion rate. This graphic shows you his influence on the game in terms of passing (From www.squawka.com, 2012)
These comments, statistics and praise from journalists who watch games week in, week out can only help recognise the job that Dan Ashworth has done at West Brom, because he has turned them from a yo-yo club with the help and backing of chairman Jeremy Peace into an established Premier League with a squad worthy of finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League for the price of an Andy Carroll.
However, scouting is not all that Dan Ashworth has a big influence over at West Brom, he is also in charge of the footballing philosophy West Brom aim to play and therefore he also is put in charge of recruiting new head coaches when needed. Therefore it is no surprise to see that the past four head coaches (not managers) - Tony Mowbray, Roberto Di Matteo, Roy Hodsgon and Steve Clarke all have the same ideas in how their teams play football, a passing game aimed at attacking football. This is something that Swansea also do when they appoint managers with Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers and now currently Michael Laudrup all have the same footballing philosophy of wanting to attack.
The strengths of doing this is that when you change manager, the philosophy remains the same and the transition is smooth which helps the the club, the new manager and more importantly players as they don't spend time adapting to new a philosophy and a way of playing football. Ralph Ellis of The Daily Mirror claimed that Steve Clarke has inherited arguably the Premier League's most stable club and it is very hard to disagree with him. Jeremy Peace took some criticism a few years back when he refused to spend a lot of money in 2008/2009 season after winning The Championship, but he refused to give in to fans wanting him to spend big on players after seeing the relegation and demise of such clubs as Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Leeds United.
He has constantly kept our best players, and if he does decide to sell them he will always make sure the club gets the best deal for the player which happened when he sold Jason Koumas to Wigan Athletic for over £5million and Diomansy Kamara to Fulham for £6million. Two footballers who then went onto do nothing after their moves from West Bromwich Albion. The way the club is run means that West Brom will never be in debt, and if they do happen to relegated again then they will always be in a position to keep players and make a good attempt of getting promoted again at the same attempt, which is something Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton might struggle to do this year.
This blog has just looked at one particular way a football club is run in the modern era in the Premier League and I'm sure many clubs adopt a similar type of model but looking from the outside at smaller clubs in the Premier League, it appears as if West Brom are a stand alone club in the way they have a Technical & Sporting Director and a Head Coach. Although we might see a lot more smaller clubs adapt this stance and copying the model set up at West Brom which has worked wonders financially and on the pitch for the club. I have recently read that The F.A. are thinking of making an approach for Dan Ashworth to become their new Technical Director, and after what he has done for West Bromwich Albion, I can simply say that he is the best man for the job.