Carlos Corberan’s appointment as Albion’s new manager last week hailed the start of yet another era at West Brom. It’s already the third era since our relegation from the Premier League in 2021 and the seventh since our relegation in 2018.
It’s no fault of Corberan that so many of us feel hopeless and lethargic, regardless of a new manager, nor was it the fault of Steve Bruce. There’s no denying we played terrible football under the veteran manager and that has put us where we are now – in a relegation scrap.Embed from Getty Images
It is the fault of our owner Lai Guochuan, who is ruining our club from top to bottom. He has treated the club – and the fans – with contempt. Ever since he purchased the club for around £175 million six years ago, we’ve been in a period of managed decline, not helped by the several millions of pounds taken out in loans.
Even when we were promoted under Slaven Bilic, there was little chance of us staying up, with a severe lack of investment playing a huge part in our inevitable demise.
What’s even more ironic is that Lai is believed to want to sell up and recoup the majority of his investment, a prospect that seems unlikely even if we’re an established Premier League side.
That’s because Lai won’t invest the money that is so desperately needed to make us that side once again. We saw that last time we were in the top tier and we’ve seen it since.
Our transfer policy has revolved primarily around loans and free transfers, bar the odd ‘splashes’ on Grady Diangana and Karlan Grant. Even those transfers were deals that saw us commit to paying fees over several years.Embed from Getty Images
It seems confusing that the man who wants to sell his club will seemingly do everything in his power to make this as difficult as possible.
Another example was the potential appointment of Chris Wilder last summer, prior to Valérien Ismaël’s appointment.
Wilder was reportedly on the verge of signing before Lai stepped in, citing Wilder’s past with the Sheffield United board. He got his wish in Ismaël and Bruce, two yes men whose football never suited the club and contributed to a rapid drop down the Championship table.
So while it may seem harsh to dismiss any future Corberan success, it is wise.
At best, Corberan gets us promoted before we crash back down into the championship due to a severe lack of investment. At worst, we face relegation. Somewhere in between, and this may be worse, we face years of slow rot in the Championship with a stubborn owner that fails to admit to his failed investment.
History has shown there is no progress to be made so long as Lai is in charge. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
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