Tony Mowbray has secured the services of one defender and also scotched rumours of another – Celtic’s Bobo Balde, joining him at The Hawthorns.
The West Bromwich Albion manager reacted incredulously to suggestions made in the Scottish press earlier in the day that the veteran centre half was set to become the club’s tenth signing of the summer.
Balde’s future has been the subject of speculation for several months and, with Celtic boss Gordon Strachan no longer interested in his services, should be resolved by the time the transfer window closes at midnight on Monday.
But while it is not certain where the 33-year-old will end up, Mowbray made it abundantly clear it will not be at The Hawthorns who have already bolstered their rearguard with the signing of Abdoulaye Meite.
“I don’t know why we have been strongly linked with Bobo Balde,” Mowbray said. “He is not player we have ever talked about. I thought Wolverhampton and Birmingham were interested in him. Is it a Midlands thing maybe?”
Mowbray will take his side to Bolton Wanderers tomorrow without Balde but with left back Paul Robinson, who yesterday signed a new two-year contract with an option for a third season that could take his stay in the Black Country to eight years.
Robinson has played 200 games for Albion since arriving for £250,000 from Watford in October 2003 and although there have been times when it looked as though he would leave the club, he remains the second longest serving player – after Neil Clement – and a vital part of Mowbray’s plans.
“He warrants his new deal,” Mowbray said. “He was very consistent last year and has started well this season. I am delighted he has put pen to paper.
“He is a good player. I like good players who deal with whatever comes at them be it direct football or Brazil – whatever is asked of them. He hopefully fits that category. If he has got to be physical he can be and if it’s a football match he is not found wanting either.”
For his part Robinson claimed that even though he had just one year left on his existing agreement, he never wanted to leave the club having become something of an Albion stalwart with a reputation for his tough tackling and quick temper.
“People do get concerned about being in their last year and whether they are in the manager’s plans but for me that was never a problem. I am fully committed to the club and no matter what had happened I would have given my all for the year.
“I am a great believer in the manager and what he wants to do with this club. He is a great football man, he gives the players knowledge of the game and the way he wants us to play as a team. We showed last year what a quality team we are. To finish top was a great achievement for us.
“We wanted to come in to this league and show teams we can play football. Unfortunately in the first two games we have played our football but not put the ball in the back of the net.”
Coincidentally Robinson will face the man who brought him to The Hawthorns tomorrow – Bolton boss Gary Megson – as Albion go to Reebok Stadium looking for their first win of the new campaign.