Baggies revel in Thomas gamble
West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo has hailed the impact of winger Jerome Thomas - after snatching him from under the noses of Sunday's derby rivals Wolves.
Thomas underwent a trial at Molineux during the summer of 2009 and played in a friendly against MK Dons when he picked up a hamstring injury. Wolves decided they wanted another look at the player before deciding whether to sign him but Di Matteo stepped in with a three-year contract offer.
Di Matteo said: "Jerome played the pre-season before last at Wolves but we showed faith in him. He had an injury history but we showed faith."
Thomas repaid that faith by playing a key part in the Baggies gaining promotion back to the Barclays Premier League.
He has continued the same form this season and will look to help the Baggies reach the 25-point mark by Christmas with victory over Wolves at the Hawthorns in the lunch-time encounter. But Di Matteo is also looking for more goal-power from Thomas.
"He had a great season for us last year and scored some great goals," said the Baggies boss. He hasn't scored as many so far in the Premier League as I expected him to.
"I think he needs to improve on that side but he's been a great signing for us and made a significant contribution."
Albion have impressed with their passing style since returning to the top flight and earned plaudits for winning at Arsenal and drawing away to Manchester United. Di Matteo recognises the passion that will be required in a derby but does not want his players to change their overall philosophy.
He said: "The players are very much aware that Wolves are our biggest rivals in the region. But we need to play our game and make sure we don't go out and do something completely different.
"We've come so far with our philosophy with the way we want to play and win games. It was no consolation last weekend when we played well and lost at Aston Villa when we deserved at least a point, but I believe if we keep performing and playing like that it will get us results."