Ideye arrival continues African tradition at West Bromwich Albion
Splashing out a reported club record fee of £10m on Nigeria forward Brown Ideye is a serious statement of intent from West Brom head coach Alan Irvine, as he looks to avoid relegation from the Premier League. He is 5/2 with Coral to be found wanting in this brief.
Ideye’s arrival at The Hawthorns opens the latest chapter on this unheralded hotbed for African talent. Although he was omitted from his country’s World Cup squad for the Brazil finals, there is no better place for the 25-year-old to earn an international recall than the West Midlands outfit.
Africa Cup of Nations winner Brown will join compatriot Victor Anichebe, Burundi-born Saido Berahino and Benin international Stephane Sessegnon in the Albion attack. This all-African front four will be pivotal to West Brom’s survival bid and thus Irvine, who was met with bewilderment from fans upon his appointment, keeping his job.
There is great potential for this frontline to be very fluid. Anichebe and Berahino can and should rotate with Ideye as the central striker in a bid to bamboozle opposition defenders. Irvine has already shown he will keep faith with the 4-2-3-1 system, if pre-season friendlies are anything to go by, so Sessegnon looks set to continue in a free role.
DR Congo defensive midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu will also operate in the engine room behind Brown and company, as he is set to rack up 200 Baggies appearances this term. Over the last decade there has been a steady stream of African footballers turning out at Albion.
This is something that has not escaped Ideye’s notice either. “Nigerians seem to do a great job here, so I will try to do my best,” he said upon arriving from Dynamo Kiev. “With hard work, great things will happen here.
“I’m an ambitious person and I hope to do everything possible to convince West Brom and their supporters. I have a big enthusiasm and a big will, but undoubtedly my performances on the pitch will judge me.”
Brown comes across as a level-headed man, having left the hostilities in Ukraine behind him. These ‘judge me on results’ noises must see him emulate immediate predecessor Peter Odemwingie rather than Nigerian forebear Kanu (2004-06), though.
Ask most Albion fans what they most remember the latter for, and they’ll swiftly recall the open goal miss from point blank range against Middlesbrough in the ‘great escape’ season of 2004/05 under Bryan Robson. Kanu’s record for the Baggies was a paltry seven Premier League goals in 53 outings.
Odemwingie, who Ideye is more like in height, stature and style, meanwhile, was markedly more successful during his three-year stint at The Hawthorns (2010-13). His acrimonious departure aside, he averaged about a goal every other game in his first season and one in three during the second campaign.
All striking performances are likely to be judged against Romelu Lukaku’s haul from 2012/13, however. The Big Belgian, who incidentally has African heritage of his own, hit 17 Premier League goals, so if Brown can replicate that, then the Baggies will have got themselves a bargain buy.
It’s 7/2 Albion repeat the top 10 finish recorded by Irvine’s fellow Scotsman Steve Clarke of two seasons ago. Brown Ideye will likely be a big part of that should they achieve it.