The Rise, The Fall, The Resurrection
The Rise, fall and the Resurrection of Ronnie Wallwork
As a number of West Brom fans know this season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for player of the year Ronnie Wallwork. Since being bought into the side last Christmas by Bryan Robson
he has been a regular in the Albion starting eleven after being frozen out by former manager Gary Megson. During this time Ronnie has been cheered and jeered by the Albion faithful.
Last season Ronnie was one of our most consistent performers forming a midfield partnership with the impressive Manchester United youngster Kieran Richardson. During the second half of last season Ronnie could not put a foot wrong. Ronnie was putting in performances that were going unnoticed by the media as Richardson took all the plaudits for pulling the strings in midfield. This suited Wallwork as he got on with his job of shielding and protecting our defence which conceded 24 goals in 21 games after Christmas.
Wallwork received his just rewards at the end of this historic season by picking up the West Brom player of the season award, pipping full bloodied Paul Robinson and the Magic Magyar Zoltan Gera.
This season started a little differently for Ronnie, not having a regular midfield partner due to Albion being unable to retain the services of Richardson for another season hit Ronnie hard. Robson picked Ronnie week in week out with a number of different midfield partners. Darren Carter, Ricardo Scimeca, Richard Chaplow and Steve Watson all had the opportunity to support Wallwork a long with a brief forty five minute cameo appearance from Andy Johnson that defined his season. This hasn’t helped Ronnie recapture the form of last season and he struggled to keep fans on side with some poor performances. Fans were calling for Robson to drop Wallwork from the side and there were some unsavoury chants from the Albion faithful. Robson backed his man and would not drop him from the starting eleven.
Albion fans were frustrated by the team’s performances and Wallwork proved to be the scapegoat for Albion fans and they vented their frustrations on him. To be fair to Ronnie he didn’t have a partner like Richardson to play alongside allowing him to do the dirty work. There were calls for Robson to give Japan International Junichi Inamoto the opportunity to play alongside Wallwork, Inamoto started the season alongside Wallwork at Manchester City but that was his only appearance in two months. After Inamoto improving the parts of his game that Robson wanted him to improve Inamoto was finally given the opportunity Albion fans were hoping he would get. This proved to be a turning point for Albion and for Ronnie Wallwork.
Bryan Robson finally started to play a settled side; the back four looked a lot more settled with Neil Clement and Curtis Davies getting used to each others game and with Martin Albrechtsen and Paul Robinson playing their usual game Albion stopped conceding silly goals.
This defence combined with a new midfield pairing of Wallwork and Inamoto proved to be the catalyst for Albion’s improved performances. The inclusion of Inamoto allowed Wallwork to go back to his old game of sitting in front of the improving defence and breaking up opposition attacks and distributing the ball to Inamoto, thus allowing Inamoto to provide the creativity for Albion’s strikers and their wide men.
It just goes to prove if you give Ronnie the right partner he can be a major asset to Albion and I for one am hoping that this season proves to be another success for Albion and for Ronnie.