Right, so I'm going to have a bit of a rant here.
End of last season, WBA came 11th. We scored lots of goals, and we conceded the second highest in the league- only gathering two clean sheets all season.
Every fan knew we needed to improve, and so when we brought in Billy Jones from Preston, and Gareth MacAuley from Ipswich, we were content. We then pulled off the signing of Foster, a great improvement on the hit-and-miss Carson, and have secured the signatures of Long and Gera.
However, we let go of Zuiverloon and Meite. Now whilst I didn't bat an eyelid at Zuiverloon going, I found it strange that Roy Hodgson would not wish to keep Meite, a player who he re-introduced into the side in place of Gabriel Tamas. Meite did very well in RH's 12 games in charge, and looked like the defender who did so well at Bolton all those season's ago.
Before tonight, we had this back four:
With a back up of:
Billy Jones/ Gonzalo Jara Reyes/ James Hurst
Gareth MacAuley/ Craig Dawson
We now have the same first team back four, but our second string defence looks like this:
Now, I'm not one to dismiss a player, but Mattock is not good enough for the Premier League at the moment. Maybe in season or three, but not now. Dawson is a great prospect, but, like Mattock, I don't think he's ready yet.
We have Paul Scharner who can slot in at Centre Back, but he seems to be preferred in a midfield role.
Because of all of the above, plus loaning James Hurst to Blackpool for the season, we no longer have an out-and-out Right Back. Reid is a midfielder who can play there, and does well most of the time; Jara is a utility man who can be quite rash; Jones was brought in as a Right Back but from doing some research he has also played as a Midfielder and a Winger.
We are also now overly reliant on Jonas Olsson to carry our defence. If he got injured tomorrow, and was out for two to three months, I would put money on us being in the bottom three when he returns. Likewise, if Nicky Shorey was injured, the likes of Mattock aren't proven to be good enough at this level for extended periods of time.
So what does all this mean? We were after targets. We pursued Ridgewell and Dann at Blues. We looked at loaning Onouha, and earlier on the likes of Woodgate, Upson and Johnston all passed us by. We aren't a big spending club by any means, but one player to play with Olsson won't make us do a Leeds or a Portsmouth.
The selling of Ibanez and Cech late today shows a lack of foresight by the club. Maybe Hodgson is happy with the defence and he thinks the unproven MacAuley and the young Dawson can make the step up. Who knows, but there are a lot of angry Albion fans demanding answers from the club as to why the defence, our weakest area last season, has seemingly gotten worst.
**TL;DR: Selling defenders when we have a poor defence and no time to get replacements is bad.**