The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Wragg

WEST Brom are cur­rently one of the hottest tick­ets in Euro­pean foot­ball – and Bag­gie James Mor­ri­son says the show is only just start­ing.

Al­bion have hit 37 goals in 17 Cham­pi­onship fix­tures and only mon­ey­bags Paris St Ger­main with their superstar team and Bel­gian’s Genk can bet­ter that in Europe’s top di­vi­sions.

The French mil­lion­aires have scored 45 in win­ning all 13 of their open­ing games in Ligue 1.

In Bel­gium, lead­ers Genk have got 39 in 15 games and sec­ond-placed Brugge are equal with West Brom on 37.

The Bag­gies’ 4-1 de­mo­li­tion of Leeds last Satur­day – the first time Leeds had con­ceded more than two goals in a game all sea­son – was pow­er­fully im­pres­sive.

Al­bion changed the way they played, switch­ing from a back three to four de­fend­ers and hav­ing six play­ers in front of them all ca­pa­ble of scor­ing.

Top scorer Dwight Gayle didn’t even get a start but still came off the subs’ bench and con­trib­uted the best goal of the four with a smart back­heel.

West Brom’s list of goalscor­ing big-hit­ters so far this sea­son reads like this – Gayle 9 goals, Jay Ro­driguez 8, Har­vey Barnes 6, Matt Phillips 5, Hal Rob­son-Kanu 3.

Then there’s Kieran Gibbs (2), Kyle Bart­ley (1) and Craig Daw­son (1) who have chipped in, plus two own goals con­trib­uted by Pre­ston and Sh­effield Wed­nes­day.

De­fen­sively, West Brom are still a ques­tion with big lads Daw­son, Kyle Bart­ley and Ahmed Hegazi look­ing less than lithe when asked to play the ball out like Franz Beck­en­bauer.

It al­ways looked an odd pol­icy com­ing from Moore, him­self a bouncer of a cen­tre-half in a 600-game ca­reer across eight clubs.

With Tosin Adara­bioyo re­plac­ing Bart­ley and Gibbs switched from wing-back to an or­tho­dox left-back against Leeds, the de­fence looked more func­tional and a lot safer.

But in at­tack West Brom have light­ning ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“We’ve got strong run­ners and play­ing on the break we can be re­ally scary,” says Mor­ri­son.

Al­bion had hit a sticky patch to spank­ing Leeds and Mor­ri­son adds: “Not to get a win in four games and then put in a per­for­mance like that was huge credit. We got our game plan spot-on.”

Mor­ri­son, 32, has been at the Bag­gies for 11 years and since his £2.2m move from Mid­dles­brough he’s been in­volved in two West Brom pro­mo­tion teams.


He knows what it takes and sees a fa­mil­iar story un­fold­ing.

This team, says Mor­ri­son, is as dan­ger­ous as any West Brom team he has played in.

He went up with Al­bion in his de­but 2007-08 sea­son, went down and then back up again in 200910 as West Brom bo­ing-boinged around.

Kevin Phillips was Al­bion’s top scorer with 22 league goals ten years ago and then it was Chris Brunt with 13 eight years ago. Both Phillips and Brunt, who is still at the club, could be eclipsed this time.

“Dwight Gayle, his goal against Leeds,” re­calls Mor­ri­son, “it was a lovely fin­ish. That’s him. If the chance comes, boom, goal.”

West Brom’s club record 105 league goals in a sea­son, set in the old Sec­ond Divi­sion in 192930, could be smashed as well.

“I al­ways go back to the first sea­son I was here,” says Mor­ri­son.

“We had four good strik­ers and they all chipped in with lots of goals and that was one of the rea­sons why we got pro­moted.

“The four then were Ishmaprior

Miller, Kevin Phillips, Ro­man Bed­nar and Luke Moore came in to­wards the end on loan. Craig Beat­tie popped up as well with a few last minute goals.”

Phillips, Miller and Bed­nar were the main three, plus sup­port from Zoltan Gera and Robert Koren, and Al­bion stacked up 88 goals to fin­ish top of the Cham­pi­onship from Stoke.

“We’ve got sim­i­lar­i­ties here in the cur­rent squad and it is im­por­tant they share the load,” says Mor­ri­son. “All the lads we have are ca­pa­ble of scor­ing goals. “We’ve got 37 in 17 games. It’s a great stat. “Now we’ve got to keep go­ing. When the chances come in this league you’ve got to take them. That was the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Leeds win and what went be­fore it for us.” West Brom went one goal bet­ter in the 2009-10 pro­mo­tion sea­son un­der Roberto Di Mat­teo’s man­age­ment, scor­ing 89 goals, one less than New­cas­tle who topped the Cham­pi­onship with Al­bion au­toel mat­i­cally go­ing up with them as run­ners-up. Bed­nar, as he was un­der Tony Mow­bray, was in the goals again with ten, three be­hind Brunt who had his best scor­ing sea­son.

Koren was there again with five and Jerome Thomas (seven) and Gra­ham Dor­rans (12) got some as Mor­ri­son achieved his sec­ond pro­mo­tion.

Paris St Ger­main are av­er­ag­ing 3.42 goals a game at the minute with Ney­mar (10 goals, 11 games), Kylian Mbappe (11 goals, 9 games) and Edin­son Ca­vani (8 goals, 8 games) run­ning riot.


That’s what you get when your club is worth clos­ing on a bil­lion pounds. But can you get a de­cent Balti pie there?

West Brom av­er­age 2.17 goals a game.

Manch­ester City are on three a game, so are Borus­sia Dort­mund, Barca are 2.83, Rangers 2.67,Chelsea 2.25, Ju­ven­tus 2.16, Genk 2.61 and Brugge 2.47. It’s good Bag­gies com­pany. “I think this Cham­pi­onship is strange,” says Mor­ri­son, who has won his own fight, com­ing back from a year’s se­ri­ous in­jury to earn a one-year con­tract.

“Any­one can beat any­one in this league and that’s the ex­cite­ment.

“We are fight­ing to get back into the Pre­mier League. Any team look­ing at us, they’ll be scared of us when we are on our ‘A’ game.”

PIC­TURE: PA Im­ages

COM­MIT­TED: West Brom’s James Mor­ri­son, left, chal­lenges Leeds’ Ke­mar Roofe in the thump­ing 4-1 win last week­end

BLAST FROM THE PAST: West Brom’s James Mor­ri­son and Jonathan Green­ing cel­e­brate Cham­pi­onship ti­tle suc­cess in 2008, right, and Dwight Gayle scores against Read­ing, right bot­tom

IN GOOD COM­PANY: PSG’s Kylian Mbappe cel­e­brates

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