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Survival is still main target for Albion

West Brom FanZoner Craig Punfield believes that survival is the main goal for Albion this campaign, despite last season's top-eight finish.

Last Updated: 02/08/13 at 12:20 Post Comment

Markus Rosenberg: Impressive pre-season

Markus Rosenberg: Impressive pre-season

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How has your pre-season gone?

As we know, little attention is paid to the result of pre-season matches, instead the games are largely used for regaining match fitness and sharpness, but I can have few complaints with how the matches for the Albion have gone!

Reports claim we have played some good stuff and the team look settled to me, perhaps because such little activity has happened in the transfer market, but more on that later...

The performances of Markus Rosenberg have also pleased me; he has shown the ability that I always thought he had. Now all we need is for the Swede to apply that into league matches and find the back of the net in a league game after failing in 24 attempts to do so last season.

Happy with how things have shaped up in terms of transfers - both in and out?

We never make the transfer window easy for ourselves, do we?

Certain players left at the end of last season that many fans expected to see leave and I can't say I am too disappointed with who has gone, so far.

But apart from the sudden arrival of some bloke called Nicolas Anelka, the entrance door to The Hawthorns for new players has been used less than Peter Odemwingie in the pre season.

There have been whispers about who may be heading to the Midlands but nothing has materialised as yet.

The imminent signing of Diego Lugano could prove to be a smart arrival, a proven centre-back with vast exprience on both domestic and international levels.

We saw in the second half of last season how having a small squad impacted on our performances on the field, and if things stay how they are then we are going to have even less numbers than previous seasons.

But, having said that and getting worked up into a worry, I have full confidence in our scouting system and the work that is done behind the scenes to bring new faces to the club, but I can't help but begin to get a bit twitchy when clubs such as Norwich, Swansea and Sunderland, clubs that are of similar stature to us, are all splashing the cash.

I feel like the child at school who had to borrow his P.E kit from lost property, whilst all the other kids have got the latest tracksuits.

Is your current manager the right man for the job?

I was shocked to hear some grumblings at the end of last season towards Steve Clarke.

Yes, we had a stuttering second half to last term, but we were unlucky with injuries and we always have a poor festive period, it wasn't just last season and something has to be done to buck that trend.

To finish in the top 10 in your first role as the main man is nothing to be scoffed at.

Dare to dream - if everything clicked into place what's the best you could hope for?

Well, if we can manage to find someone to last replace last season's 17-goal man Romelu Lukaku and steer clear of more injury problems AND a have a strong Christmas period AND hope that none of the clubs around us have improved from last season, then we could squeeze into Europe.

Back to reality - what are your realistic expectations for the new campaign?

This is more like it, reality. I always say that, as a West Brom fan, the only hope I have is to survive in the Premier League every season.

Some may call that a lack of ambition or pessimism. I call that being realistic, being a Baggie.

Who will visiting scouts be keeping an eye on this season?

Considering we have signed one player and can never be sure as to what our squad will look like come the end of the transfer window, this is a tricky question.

But, if Claudio Yacob manages to avoid symptoms of the dreaded 'second season syndrome', then I think bigger clubs will come sniffing around the Argentine.

There were rumours that Manchester United were looking at him last season and I would not be surprised to see them lodge a bid at some point during the next campaign if he performs like he did again next season, particularly if United's midfield problems continue.

If you had to pick one player who'd be fit for every minute of every game who would it be?

It has to be our England international, Ben Foster.

The former Brummie kept us in numerous games last season. Away to Liverpool always comes to mind when I think of dazzling performances from the shot-stopper.

On the flip side (without being cruel!), who is the player with most to prove?

For me, Zoltan Gera.

Some may say Rosenberg after his disappointing debut campaign in England but I would disagree, the Premier League can take longer for some players to adapt to and for all we know, this could be the Berg's year! I have no reason to think otherwise going by his impressive pre-season.

A lot of faith has been put into fan-favourite Gera over the past couple of seasons since bringing him back to the Brom, and the Hungarian is expected to be handed a new contract before the season begins.

Suffering the same injury twice is cruel enough, but at the age of 34, Gera has to show the club and supporters why the club have given him another year instead of getting a younger and less injury-prone player in to take his place.

If you could sign any one player from any other side in the same division who would you plump for?

Well, that Gareth Bale fella looks useful.

But, in reality, I really hope that we do manage to get Scott Sinclair down to the Hawthorns.

I felt for a large part of last season that we lacked any width, and that is what the Manchester City man would bring to our squad in abundance.

If you only win one game all season who would take three points from?

It would have to be against the Villa, wouldn't it?

Our only real rival currently in the division, there is no sweeter taste of a victory against your neighbour.

And we still have to show we are the pride of the Midlands, right?!

By Craig Punfield, FanZone's West Brom blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @Punnerss - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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