Sawyers back where he belongs
Romaine Sawyers is doing a very good job of proving his doubters wrong after his return to West Brom in the summer.
The 27-year-old, who came up through the youth ranks at West Brom, was shipped out on loans to Port Vale, Shrewsbury and Walsall, before being released from the club and being picked up by Walsall on a free.
According to Steve Madeley in the Athletic, a message came back from then-Walsall manager Dean Smith and assistant Richard O’Kelly a couple of weeks later saying, “You’ve got it wrong here. This kid has got a Premier League brain.”
That was in 2013 and now, six years later, Sawyer has the chance to win promotion and play in the Premier League with the club that let him go.
Graham Turner, the manager who took him to Shrewsbury has said the loan moves helped Sawyers as a player. “Like any young player, he needed knowledge of the game,” said Turner. “He’d got great ability but he probably didn’t understand the game and that’s come with experience. There were probably responsibilities for the defensive side of the game that needed working on, but also the game has changed and that has suited him.
“Before, it was probably a little bit more direct but now almost every team you see is trying to play from the back and that passing game suits him far more than the hurly-burly of the ball being knocked up to big strikers.”
West Brom were interested in bringing him back before this summer but it was overtures from Slaven Bilic and the lure of playing for a side with a big chance of getting promoted that finally saw him come home.
He has been delivering consistent performances since, getting an average rating of 6.66 from WhoScored, with a low of 6.35 (against Luton) and a high of 7.15 (against Huddersfield).
We still think he’s got more to give but he’s settling into life back at The Hawthorns really well and quickly becoming a vital player for Bilic.