West Bromwich Albion spent just over £1m in transfer fees last summer, leaving Steve Bruce to trawl the free agents market to upgrade his threadbare squad.
His additions were shrewd and impressive on paper, yet he could not get them playing in a manner necessary to retain his job, as he was sacked in October and replaced by Carlos Corberan.
The Spaniard now seemingly finds himself in a similar position but has benefitted from a sensational run of form which has his team just one point outside the Championship play-offs, despite taking over just three months ago with them in the relegation zone.
It marks a masterful turnaround in their season and has given fans hope once more that a return to the Premier League beckons.
It could have made sense to build upon such fine form by bolstering the squad, but with the transfer window soon closing and little sniff of a big incoming deal at The Hawthorns, it seems unlikely.
Clearly still financially hamstrung, with the club taking out a £20m loan over the festive period, perhaps the loan market could be an effective one to add another body or two to Corberan’s squad without potentially upsetting the balance of the team.
Should WBA sign Clarkson?
The ideal outcome would likely be to attain a highly-rated youngster form a big club, and in a potential move Leighton Clarkson, they could do just that.
Having seen himself noted as a target of Championship clubs earlier in the window, the 21-year-old remains an asset just waiting to be persuaded to undertake a different temporary deal from his current one from Liverpool.
Given the harmonious nature at The Hawthorns and West Brom’s red-hot form, it would make sense for the youngster to pick the Baggies in an effort to gain further senior experience, having excelled on loan at Aberdeen and already made three senior appearances for his parent club.
He remains the “top talent” that writer Matt Addison dubbed him, despite an unsuccessful loan spell at Blackburn Rovers in 2021.
This season, the industrious midfielder boasts a 7.02 rating in Scotland, where he has four goals and one assist to his name (via Sofascore). With an eye for a goal and a pass clearly among his standout traits, his defensive qualities still manage to shine through, showing great maturity in his intelligence and knowledge of the game.
His average of 1.6 tackles per 90 outlines him as a fine all-round operator and the perfect foil for the similarly weighted Tom Rogic. He can even conjure spectacular moments, with one particular goal he scored for Aberdeen being dubbed “special” by Sky Sports commentator Ian Crocker.
The Australian has been in solid form for Albion this season and has quality in abundance going forward while not being afraid to put a foot in when needed. His return of one goal and three assists in 2022/23 would support this, alongside an average of 1.4 tackles per 90 (via Sofascore).
If played together, the two would likely go about their defensive work with a stellar combined effort. Should they go forward from the same midfield at West Brom, it could be a devastating combination for the rest of the Championship, and one which could just spur them on to promotion.