West Bromwich Albion’s beleaguered defence came in for a fair amount of criticism last season as Albion slipped towards relegation.
Albion were hardly ever outclassed but untimely defensive howlers cost them dearly in vital games and was a contributing factor in the team’s demise.
Therefore, you would expect the Baggies defence to welcome any new arrival that could provide them with some much-needed assistance and they now have that defensive shield in the form of Youssouf Mulumbu.
Former Albion boss Tony Mowbray admitted at the end of last season that his inability to bring in a midfielder to provide defensive cover for the back four was a regret and he attempted to correct that by bringing Mulumbu over from France on loan but injury meant he made only a few appearances.
The Congo international has since made his move from Paris St Germain permanent in a £175,000 deal and, not surprisingly, centre back Leon Barnett is delighted.
“Youssouf is a defensive midfielder and if he’s come to the club they must have seen something in him to make them think he can be a success,” said Barnett. “Personally, I think we do need somebody like Youssouf to protect the back-four, but it’s not down to me who is in the team or what positions they play, it’s down to the manager.”
Barnett also has no fears new £1.9million striker Simon Cox can make a successful step up from League One to the Championship after signing from Swindon, as he did himself when he joined the Baggies from Luton in July 2007.
“I didn’t really see him play last year but I saw one of his goals on the volley,” he added.
“He has done well to get himself a move here and in training he looks very sharp – but I still think there is more to see.
“He is still young, still hungry and he is always positive in training.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Luke Daniels signed a new two-year Albion deal yesterday before joining Tranmere Rovers on a season-long loan. Daniels’ new Hawthorns contract, which also includes a further year’s option in the club’s favour, is reward for the excellent progress he made while on loan at League Two outfit Shrewsbury Town last term.
He will now continue his footballing education under new Rovers boss John Barnes in League One, although the Baggies have the right to recall the 21-year-old goalkeeper during the January transfer window.
The former England under-18s international made 38 appearances for the Shrews last season and helped them reach the play-off final at Wembley.
He played a starring role in the semi-final against Bury, making a crucial 31st-minute penalty save to ensure a second-leg shut-out before pulling off two stops in a successful penalty shoot-out.
Daniels was also in fine form at Wembley but could do nothing to prevent Gillingham’s last-gasp winner. He boasted a clean-sheet record of better than one in every three games in the league last season, recording 14 in total.
Former Albion striker Geoff Horsfield has landed his first role in coaching after joining Micky Adams as his assistant at Port Vale.
The 35-year-old had retired from football after being diagnosed with testicular cancer last season, but he resumed his career at Lincoln where he scored once in 17 appearances.
“I am looking forward to it, it is something I have always wanted to do,” Horsfield said.
“From turning 30 I have always wanted to come into the coaching side and Micky Adams has given me the chance to keep on playing.
“I want to play most of the games and Micky is going to teach me the ropes,”