FINDING a player that can turn a side’s flagging fortunes around and save them from relegation will prove difficult for West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray, but it isn’t impossible.
Neighbours Birmingham City can recall how French veteran Christophe Dugarry almost single-handedly inspired them to safety during their first season in the Premier League in 2003, and closer to home, the arrivals of midfielder Kieran Richardson and striker Kevin Campbell boosted Albion to achieve the great escape in 2005.
Now Mowbray faces the challenge of finding a player who can have a similar impact. The Albion boss has stated he doesn’t have much money to spend and will look to use the loan system, and he admits he may have to take a few gambles.
Mowbray may give an experienced player who is out of favour at his club, like Dugarry, a chance of first team football, or turn to a promising youngster at one of the Premier League’s elite clubs, like Richardson, and hope they can rise to the occasion.
“Premier League strikers who will come and score 10 to 15 goals for you between January and the end of the season are not falling off trees,” said Mowbray, whose side is four points adrift of safety after picking up one point from their last eight games.
“If they are out there people are not going to give you them. We are not in the position to go and buy a big signing. We are going to have to gamble on a young boy from a bigger club than ours, or a foreigner and is he going to settle? That is what’s going to have to happen.
“Players like Dugarry and Richardson are potentially out there but you never know until the ball starts rolling if the chemistry is right with the people you bring in.
“Dugarry was a gamble because he was seen as the bad boy of French football. He came, the chemistry was good and he hit it off with his team-mates and the fans took to him. He enjoyed the team and did well. The same with Kieran because he came and it worked well.
“I hope we can find a player where that happens and the chemistry is right, the team enjoy him being around the place and he enjoys playing in the team. Hopefully his confidence will be high, he can score a few goals and is
revitalised by getting the opportunity to play a few games. Invariably whoever comes in is not going to be playing at the club they are at the moment.”
Mowbray is looking to bring in more than one new addition but admits another hurdle will be his side’s position in the league and the uncertainty over their future in the Premier League.
“We are looking to bring in some options and we are hoping one of those will come off for us,” he said. “I hope it will be more than one and they will be on loan.
“When you find yourself in the position that you are in the nether regions of the Premier League it is very difficult to get people to commit to long term contracts. Their expectation might be that it is going to be a long, hard season and there is no guarantee that you will still be in the division next season.
“Loan options generally suit the club and the potential players well, so we can reassess it in the summer. That is fine, because the bottom line is it isn’t as if we are going to go out and buy a £15 million player. We will be hopefully bringing in people who will strengthen us and create competition in certain areas of the pitch.”