West Brom boss Steve Clarke boosted his options on the flanks towards the end of last week by acquiring Scott Sinclair from Manchester City on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent move. Having previously been coached by Clarke during his five-year spell at Chelsea, the winger revealed the pair’s history played a major part in his decision to move to the midlands:
“I like the style of football Albion play and that’s why I chose to come here and play for Steve Clarke. I know him previously from my Chelsea days and I’m excited to be playing for him again. I sat down with my family and Steve Clarke being at West Brom helped us make the decision when we were discussing where the best place for me to come was at this point of my career. I’ve spoken to Steve throughout, we know each other well, and there isn’t a better place for me to come than here. Albion play good football and it’s great for me to come into this side.”
Sinclair’s career began as a 15-year-old with Bristol City, where he became the club’s second-youngest ever first-team debutant back in late 2004. After making a couple of league appearances, he was snapped up by Chelsea the following summer but, despite his early promise, the winger found himself out of favour and made a mere five appearances for the west London club.
Indeed, much of Sinclair’s game time arrived via loan spells, with the Blues farming him out to a number of lower league clubs. Stints at Plymouth, QPR, Charlton, Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Wigan produced a total of six goals and four assists over 65 appearances before Swansea splashed out £500,000 for his services in the summer of 2010.
Finally guaranteed first-team football, the winger’s time at the Liberty proved a huge success. Handed spot-kick duties for the Welsh outfit, Sinclair racked up 22 goals and three assists in 46 appearances as he helped his new club clinch promotion to the Premier League via a play-off win over Reading.
The wide man’s first year in the top-flight brought him onto Fantasy radars, with eight goals and five assists for the Swans but after scoring in Gameweek 1 against QPR last season, Sinclair’s decision to up depart the Liberty for City ended his Fantasy prospects for 2012/13. Handed nine brief sub appearances and two starts under Roberto Mancini, he failed to find the net once in a hugely disappointing spell.
The move looks a perfect solution for all parties concerned, with Sinclair clearly a peripheral figure in Manuel Pellegrini’s first-team shake-up for the season ahead. Clarke, on the other hand, is desperate to inject some new blood into his side and is keen to help get the winger’s career back on track after a disappointing time at the Etihad:
“Scott understands he needs to play football and it will be good to work with him again. We’re delighted he feels this is the right club for him at this stage of his career. He is the type of player we were missing from the squad. He is a pure winger, who is quick, direct and scores goals – he has proven that over his career. He can play off the right or left and improves our attacking options.”
Much will depend on Clarke’s preferred formation as to how we assess Sinclair’s potential. So far this term, the Baggies boss has rolled out a 4-4-2 with James Morrison and Graham Dorrans handed the wide roles – if West Brom persist with this shape, Sinclair would also be vying for game time along with Chris Brunt for a role on the wing. Alternatively, Clarke may return to last term’s 4-2-3-1 and shift Morrison back into a central berth behind a lone forward, lessening the competition out wide. In addition, the midlands outfit also lined up in a 4-3-3 in one or two pre-season friendlies – potentially affording Sinclair a role in a front three.
Bearing in mind his side have yet to score over the first two Gameweeks, Clarke looks likely to freshen up his options ahead of the weekend home game with Swansea, perhaps handing Sinclair a debut against his old club. Listed in the mid-price bracket across the Fantasy games – 6.0 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) – Sinclair’s appeal would certainly be boosted if he’s afforded a share of set-pieces, while his impressive spot-kick conversion record may also persuade Clarke to hand him penalty duties.
While the short-term fixtures look decent (SWA, ful, SUN), Clarke’s side then face United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in the following six – a schedule hardly conducive to Fantasy investment. With cheaper midfield alternatives such as Cardiff’s Peter Whittingham, Hull’s Robbie Brady or Everton youngster Ross Barkley not only far kinder on the budget but quick to pick up the attacking points, Sinclair is perhaps one to monitor until the Baggies’ agenda takes a turn for the better around the Gameweek 10 mark.