Most Improved Player of the Year

2020 has seen the decline of some players at West Brom, but for others it’s been a year where they’ve surpassed the fan’s, and perhaps their own, expectations and emerged as first-team regulars. Maybe they were the subject of ridicule amongst fans or maybe you didn’t know they even existed until this year but regardless of where they started they year, let’s celebrate how they’ve finished it.

Here’s a toast to some of the most improved players in Albion ranks this year:

#1 Sam Johnstone

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In 2019, he was OK. He was liable to the odd error and never looked totally comfortable marshalling the defence in front of him. There were some serious doubts amongst fans and staff that Johnstone could be a true Premier League number one after the club’s promotion. But to say he’s stepped up to the plate in the Premier League is an understatement.

He showcased his supreme shot stopping talent throughout early 2020, but he’s continued to improve game after game. He’s produced numerous outstanding saves which has earned his side some invaluable points this year, let’s all hope his upward trend continues as he knocks on the door of an England call up.

#2 Dara O’Shea

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Out of nowhere, O’Shea has become a versatile, brave and committed Albion defender. A graduate from the club’s academy, his rise from unknown and untested full back to Republic of Ireland international and one half of West Brom’s starting Premier League centre back partnership has been a joy to watch.

The 21 year-old only debuted in late January and hasn’t looked back since. Three goals in 2020 makes him one of the club’s top scorers this year, but it’s his defensive contributions that epitomise his game. Hopefully he’ll continue to grow and progress in a Baggies jersey throughout 2021.

#3 Conor Townsend

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Townsend has been rivalling Kieran Gibbs for that left back spot all year and after Gibbs’ issues with injuries, Townsend has grabbed his Premier League opportunity with both hands.

Sadly, the former Scunthorpe man has recently picked up an injury but he excelled in Bilic’s left wing back role. A talented crosser, a dedicated defender and an increasingly composed footballer. Credit to Townsend for becoming a valuable Albion asset in 2020 after a quiet, borderline disappointing, start to his Albion career between 2018 and 2019.

#4 Darnell Furlong

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Darnell Furlong is one of the bright sparks of this Baggies side. A naturally attacking full back, Furlong was unfortunate to not start more often in Championship as his influence on the right flank never went unnoticed by the fans.

But it’s been his continuous impact in the Premier League for West Brom that has finally ensured that he’s cemented his starting berth at right back. He marked a great year with his first goal, a pearler at that, versus Newcastle in a losing effort. 2021 promises to be a big year for Darnell and I’m sure Baggies fans everywhere hope he can be our right back for years to come.

The Results:

  1. Sam Johnstone (63.1%)
  2. Conor Townsend (19.7%)
  3. Dara O’Shea (10.6%)
  4. Darnell Furlong (6.6%)

The winner of the 2020 WBA Report Most Improved Player of the Year award is Sam Johnstone!

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