View: Derby journalist completely wide of the mark with claim about 'really old' West Brom team
One of the main things that Slaven Bilic and Luke Dowling worked hard on in the summer was reducing the average age of the West Brom squad.
Craig Dawson, Wes Hoolahan, Tyrone Mears, James Morrison, Boaz Myhill, Allan Nyom, Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez – all of whom are now aged 30 or over – were sent packing by the Baggies last year.
Stats by transfermarkt show that the average age of West Brom’s starting line-up last season was 27.1.
The average age of Bilic’s starting line-up this season is 25.9 – but the average age is still gaining criticism for some reason.
The Athletic’s Derby journalist Richard Conway has mocked the age of some Baggies players with claims that we think are completely wide of the mark and show a really poor understanding of what is going on at The Hawthorns and in the Championship as a whole.
“That team is old. That team is so old,” Conway told the TapIn podcast, as shown on Twitter.
“You mentioned Hal Robson-Kanu at 31 and then just look at their squad. Charlie Austin’s 30, Matt Phillips is 29, Jake Livermore’s 29, Gareth Barry’s 164. Even Kieran Gibbs, the kid from Arsenal, he is now 30.
“It’s a really, really old team so whatever happens if they go up – even if they don’t go up – that squad’s got to get younger.”
West Brom still have a number of experienced players on their books, admittedly. Long-serving midfielder Chris Brunt is 35, Gareth Barry is 39, Lee Peltier is 33, Ali Al-Habsi is 38 and Kamil Grosicki is 32.
They’re the only five players in the Baggies squad who you’d consider as ‘getting on’ and may be approaching the end of their careers. But between them, Barry is the only one to start a Championship match and that was only one game.
West Brom’s squad has boasted a good number of younger players aged 24 and below this season.
Nathan Ferguson, 19, and Dara O’Shea, 21, have broken into the first-team after rising through the ranks of the academy. Rekeem Harper, 20, and Kyle Edwards, 22, are also academy products that have played a role this term.
Then there are the loan stars. Grady Diangana is 22 while Matheus Pereira and Filip Krovinovic are both 24.
In terms of the rest of the Championship, the average age of West Brom’s squad – out of players who have played in the league – is the second-lowest in the top-six [transfermarkt].
That means that, based on the evidence of this season, an experienced squad of players is more likely to get you into the top-six.
Fulham’s is fourth-oldest in the league, Preston’s is sixth, Leeds’ is eighth and Nottingham Forest’s is ninth.
Barnsley have the youngest squad and are bottom.
Last season, Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa won promotion to the Premier League. Funnily enough, Sheffield United’s squad was the second-oldest in the Championship and Villa’s was sixth-oldest.
There seems to be a correlation between more experienced squads and the chance of winning promotion so mocking the age of squads isn’t really a good idea.
But still, West Brom’s team is not “really old”.
While we could do with bringing in a few more players in the summer to replace those who are likely to leave when their contract ends, they’re the older players like Brunt, Barry, Peltier and Al-Habsi who’ll be on their way.
What are the chances of West Brom replacing one 39-year-old with another?
In other West Brom news, an EFL manager has declared interested in signing this 23-year-old from the Baggies.