West Bromwich Albion spent £38m on new signings after being promoted to the Premier League in 2020 but cut their budget following relegation back to the Championship. The Baggies spent £7.8m in 2021/22 all on one striker (Daryl Dike from Orlando SC) and turned in an £11.2 profit through player sales and contract terminations.  

It seemed deliberate that the majority of their signings were free transfers and loan deals last summer, bringing in out-of-contract players like Alex Mowatt (Barnsley), Adam Reach (Sheffield Wednesday) and Andy Carroll (Reading) while loaning Matt Clarke (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Jayson Molumby (Brighton & Hove Albion).

This summer, West Brom have signed Molumby for less than £1m and recently confirmed John Swift on a free transfer, so it’s clear they’re cutting costs despite their pursuit of promotion. Steve Madeley of The Athletic said in Friday’s Q&A: ‘Bruce is looking extensively at the free-agent market. I think he’d realistically hope for two or three (players) in early.’

It’s a bold move by West Brom to operate in this manner given they finished 10th in the Championship last season, but there is faith in Bruce that the squad is good enough to deliver with just a sprinkling of added talent.

Bruce has brought in a creative midfielder and is being linked with a centre-back, so a talented wide-man might be the final piece of the puzzle.

In other news, what to do with Matt Phillips?