Corberán celebrates new contract with trip to St Andrew’s

Birmingham City v West Bromwich Albion; St Andrew’s, Friday 10th February 2023, 8pm

Since his return to English football in October, Carlos Corberán has transformed the fortunes of West Bromwich Albion and inevitably found himself on the radars of a number of Premier League clubs. When his former club, Leeds United, sacked their head coach on Monday, many observers were joining the dots and the Baggies man soon became the favourite to take over at Elland Road.

Having previously been linked to the Everton job, the Spaniard had come out with some very reassuring words about how happy he was at the Hawthorns, but Leeds was always likely to be a pull. There have been plenty of rumours that “talks” had been had, although being under contract at Albion would mean any such conversations would either have been sanctioned by the club or illegal, but Baggies fans were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday evening when the club announced that Corberán had signed a contract extension until the summer of 2027.

The statement was accompanied by comments from the man himself about how happy and settled he was at the club, but the timing cannot be coincidental and I’m sure he was tempted by Leeds United’s interest. He was highly thought of at Elland Road and, as I have reported previously, he was trusted by owner Andrea Radrizzani and sporting director Victor Orta to assist with the recruitment of Marcelo Bielsa back in 2018.

Ultimately, he has decided to stay at the Hawthorns – whether he felt the job was too risky, or perhaps the interest on either side wasn’t that strong anyway, it doesn’t really matter. All connected with the Baggies will be happy that he will be around for a little while yet.

His next task takes him to St Andrew’s to take on John Eustace’s Birmingham City side that can be described, at best, as inconsistent. Their win at the Hawthorns in September was just their third of the campaign albeit it was the second in a run of just two defeats in twelve games. That propelled them into the top half of the table, just, but until last weekend, they had won only one in nine league games. Their very late and unexpected comeback at Swansea ended a run of five straight defeats and they now sit in a lowly 18th place in the table.

That slump in form can partially be attributed to a spate of injuries but Eustace announced on Wednesday that he expected to have a fully fit squad to choose from for this match with Harlee Dean, George Hall and Troy Deeney all expected to return from spells in the treatment room.

Their home form is of particular concern with City having won just one of their last nine matches at St Andrew’s. It cannot have been helped by the safety issues that have led to the lower tier on the Kop and Tilton Road stands being closed for more than two years and other off-field problems that have led to fan protests. Like Albion, City have owners apparently unable or unwilling to invest and the funds to complete the work necessary although, unlike Albion, there are ongoing discussions about a takeover. Further protests by fans are expected for Friday’s televised fixture, with suggestions that Action For Albion may be involved with some sort of joint protest against unscrupulous owners.

If there was any disruption to Carlos Corberán’s week by the Leeds situation, that was all sorted by Tuesday evening and I’m sure he will have ensured that any impact on his preparation work for this match would have been minimal. He was pleased with the fast start that Albion had to last Friday’s match against Coventry City and the support that the squad showed to the under-fire David Button who was thrust into league action for the first time since October due to the injury to Alex Palmer. While the victory was narrow, it was a committed performance from Albion showing all the qualities that they will need if they are to be in the promotion picture come the end of the campaign.

The Spaniard will have some decisions to make in the front four given the performances last week. Albrighton sparkled on his debut, Diangana put in one of his best performances under Corberán and Wallace did well in the unfamiliar number ten position. John Swift, meanwhile, was impressive off the bench while Karlan Grant remains another option. Furthermore, he must decide whether to continue with Daryl Dike as a starter or to give Brandon Thomas-Asante the starting berth up front.

Along with Dara O’Shea, Wallace has started every Championship game for Albion this season and, while he can play anywhere across the front line, I felt that he was important enough to the team to be “accommodated” as a number ten last weekend with Corberán keen to give Albrighton a start and give Diangana some more game time on the left. With Swift having missed the previous game through illness, it was perhaps an easy decision, but it will be interesting to see what he does on Friday.

I don’t foresee any changes to the starting line up behind that front four. O’Shea’s record is even more impressive than Wallace in that he has played every minute of Championship football this season. It would seem that only injury or suspension would keep him out of the line up this season and, while he has picked up six yellow cards this season, he avoided a suspension by not picking up his fifth yellow card until game 23, four games after the deadline, and needs to pick up fewer than four cards in the next eight league matches to avoid a two-match ban. He is more than worthy of his place in the side and he has developed a fantastic partnership with Erik Pieters who, it would seem, is more than comfortable as a centre back and, being left-footed, provides real balance to the back line.

Many observers felt that David Button would soon be supplanted by Josh Griffiths as the number two ‘keeper behind Alex Palmer, but his performance against Coventry, behind a settled back line, was so much better than those we had seen recently in the FA Cup and the last half-dozen games he had in the league under Steve Bruce. For me, Button has never been a bad goalkeeper, but his form had suffered horrendously this season and his confidence took a battering, which in turn affected his communication. I’m sure Palmer will return once he is fit and Griffiths is evidently a talented youngster who has been recalled to be involved in the first team squad, but if Button continues to show the same solidity as he did last week, he will stay between the posts for the time being.

Albion will go into Friday’s game as favourites, and they should come away with all three points if they play to their best, but Blues will be a tough nut to crack and, with Troy Deeney in the side, they won’t be short of the desire to get one over the Baggies.


Friday evening will see the 137th senior meeting between Albion and Blues and the 124th in the league. The history of this fixture dates back to 1886 when the Baggies beat the then-named Small Heath Alliance 4-0 in the FA Cup Semi Final at the Aston Lower Grounds, which would one day become Villa Park.

Small Heath played their home games at Muntz Street, a venue at which Albion never lost winning four and drawing one of their five visits before the club changed its name to Birmingham FC and, shortly afterwards, moved to St Andrew’s. The Throstles’ first game at Birmingham’s new venue was for a replay of a first round FA Cup tie in January 1908 which the visitors won thanks to goals from Willie Jordan and Harry Wilcox in front of almost 25,000 spectators.

Although Small Heath registered one win at the Hawthorns in 1904, it was the club’s only win in the first 25 meetings. Birmingham didn’t record a home win over the Baggies until September 1925 when a brace from Ernie Islip and another from George Briggs secured a 3-0 victory.

Results have been much more even since then, but Albion still hold a significant overall advantage in the head-to-head with 60 wins to Birmingham’s 37 and even hold the edge at Birmingham’s ground with 28 wins to the hosts’ 21.

The Baggies’ stand out results at St Andrew’s came in successive visits in 1958 and 1960. Vic Buckingham’s team won 6-0 in September 1958 thanks to a brace each from David Burnside and Jimmy Campbell and further goals from Derek Kevan and Ronnie Allen while 18 months later, after Gordon Clark had taken the reins at the Hawthorns, his team went back to Small Heath and bettered that scoreline in April 1960. Johnny Gordon actually gave the hosts and early lead but a brace from Ronnie Allen and another from Alec Jackson saw the Baggies lead 3-1 at the break, before Derek Kevan joined the party with a second half hat trick leaving time for Allen to complete his own treble with a penalty in the 90th minute – final score 7-1.

Blues best win over Albion is 4-0, a result they first recorded in March 1948 in a Division Two fixture at St Andew’s. They matched it in March 1999 and then again in the Premier League fixture in December 2004 thanks to goals from Robbie Savage, Clinton Morrison, Emile Heskey and Darren Anderton.

The Baggies were on a nine-match unbeaten run against Blues stretching back to 2006 before City won the truly turgid encounter between the sides at St Andrew’s in April last year. They followed that up with a 3-2 win at the Hawthorns in September.

Between February 1986 and February 1992, Albion recorded five successive wins at St Andrew’s, the best being the 4-1 victory in a Division Two fixture in October 1988. Des Bremner opened the scoring for City but Vince Overson was sent off before half an hour was played. A quick fire double from former Blues man, Robert Hopkins, put the visitors ahead at the break, and they secured the points with further goals in the second half from Stewart Phillips and Gary Robson. Hopkins would return to St Andrew’s a few months later.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion D W W L L W
Birmingham City L W L D L W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

14 Sep 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Wallace, Thomas-Asante (pen))
Birmingham City 3 (Hogan (3))

Last meeting at Birmingham City

3 Apr 2022 – League Championship
Birmingham City 1 (Taylor (pen))
West Bromwich Albion 0

Last win

15 Oct 2021 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Grant)
Birmingham City 0

Last win at Birmingham City

14 Dec 2019 – League Championship
Birmingham City 2 (Jutkiewicz, Dean)
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Diangana, Austin (2))

Albion’s Record against Birmingham City

Overall Away
League 123 52 35 36 169 140 61 24 16 21 80 75
FA Cup 9 7 1 1 18 8 4 4 0 0 9 5
League Cup 2 1 1 0 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 0
Other 2 0 2 0 2 2 1 0 1 0 2 2
Total 136 60 39 37 192 151 67 28 18 21 91 82

If you cannot see the tables, click here.

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