A new Baggies era kicks off at Bramall Lane

Steve Bruce takes charge of his first Albion game at the home of one of his former clubs, Sheffield United, with Baggies’ fans hoping to see a dramatic improvement from the performances they have witnessed in their last two matches. Back-to-back 2-0 defeats forced the club into action, not only dismissing head coach, Valérien Ismaël, but also appointing a new CEO and Chairman. The words coming from the club since then have all been positive, but Wednesday evening will be the first chance to see the new regime in action

Steve Bruce was appointed 24 hours after his predecessor was sacked and he has had five days to work with the squad. There are plenty of familiar faces for him to reacquaint himself with having previously worked with Andy Carroll, Jake Livermore, Conor Townsend, Adam Reach and Sam Johnstone. The entire squad will have gotten a clean slate from the new boss, however, and some of those who found their opportunities limited under the previous head coach will be hopeful of increased game time.

Having said that, the two obvious candidates, Robert Snodgrass and Jordan Hugill, left the club before the new manager was appointed, but Semi Ajayi and maybe even Kenneth Zohore will be hopeful of a fresh start under a new boss. The most pressing question on the fans’ lips will, however, be how they will line up.

Val’s stubborn commitment to 3-4-3 was one of the chief sources of frustration amongst the fan base and it would be a huge surprise if Bruce’s team were to line up the same way. Looking back at his time at St James’s Park, he tended to switch between a back three and a back four so there are few clues as to what his preferred formation might be. Baggies’ fans will be looking for some flexibility and some attractive attacking football, but it may take a while to get Val-ball out of the players’ instincts.

It isn’t exactly an easy test for Bruce’s first game in charge as Paul Heckingbottam’s team are on a good run of form having recovered from a difficult start under former boss, Slaviša Jokanović. Since the Serb was sacked, the Blades have won six of eight league games lifting them from 16th into the top ten and a victory would move them level on points with Albion with two games in hand. What Baggies fans wouldn’t give for a new manager bounce like that!

While not all fans welcomed Bruce’s appointment, there is a renewed sense of anticipation and excitement to see whether he can turn around the club’s fortunes. We might not get an answer on Wednesday evening, but we will hopefully get a step in the right direction.


This match will be the 110th league meeting between Albion and Sheffield United with the head-to-head record standing at 42 wins apiece, although the Baggies hold the edge overall having won most of the cup ties between the sides.

Albion have won at Bramall Lane, the only home stadium that the Blades have had, on fourteen occasions including on their first ever visit in October 1893 when the legendary Billy Bassett scored one of the visitors’ goals in a 2-0 victory.

While Albion’s biggest ever game at Bramall Lane was the FA Cup Final replay against Barnsley in 1912, the most famous match of recent years was, of course, the one dubbed the Battle of Bramall Lane in March 2002 which was abandoned after 82 minutes when United went down to six players. The 3-0 scoreline was confirmed as the result and is the Baggies biggest away win over the Blades – Scott Dobie scored two of the visitors’ goals with Derek McInnes grabbing the third.

The only time the Baggies scored four at Bramall Lane was in April 1998. A Graham Stuart penalty opened the scoring for the hosts before goals from Andy Hunt and Lee Hughes either side of half time put Albion 2-1 up. Marcelo equalised for United but further goals from Hughes and Kevin Kilbane made the final score 4-2 to the visitors.

The Blades’ biggest win over Albion came a couple of years later in February 2000 when Marcus Bent’s hat trick was added to by further goals from Paul Devlin, Alex Notman and Michael Brown to make the final score 6-0. That remains the Baggies’ joint biggest defeat since the 1976 7-0 defeat at Ipswich.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion D L L W L L
Sheffield United L L D W W W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

18 Aug 2021 – League Championship
West Brom 4 (J. Robinson (o.g.), O’Shea, Mowatt, Robinson)
Sheffield United 0

Last meeting at Sheffield United

2 Feb 2021 – Premier League
Sheffield United 2 (Bogle, Sharp)
West Brom 1 (Phillips)

Last win at Sheffield United

14 Dec 2018 – League Championship
Sheffield United 1 (McGoldrick)
West Brom 2 (Barry, Gibbs)

Albion’s Record against Sheffield United

  Overall   Away
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 109 42 25 42 147 143   54 14 15 25 54 84
FA Cup 6 3 2 1 15 7   3 0 2 1 2 4
League Cup 1 1 0 0 2 1   0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 2 1 1 0 2 1   1 0 1 0 1 1
Total 118 47 28 43 166 152   58 14 18 26 57 89

If you cannot see the tables, click here.

Related posts