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Football News: West Bromwich Albion Season Review

West Bromwich Albion Season Review
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West Bromwich Albion Season Review

This season might have felt like a success to the Baggies, finishing in the top half, if it was not for the fact that they spent most of the season in 8th and fell apart the moment they reached 40 points. As it was, just 1 win in the last 12 Premier League games saw them slide down to 10th, mainly because they contrived to lose 9 of those last 12 matches. It has been a recurring problem for Tony Pulis, one he needs to solve soon or clubs will look beyond him once they are settled in the Prem.

Looking back on it now, it is shocking how badly West Brom tailed off, from chasing down Everton for 7th with 10 to play, to end up down in 10th and nowhere near the Toffees. To end up 16 points behind a team they looked to be rivalling for the final European place is, quite frankly, embarrassing. However, to look at it objectively, prior to Pulis taking charge, West Brom had become a relegation battler. So he has taken the club up a step, back to where they used to sit comfortably a few years ago, but that is not enough for a club with ambition.

West Brom have ambitions of European qualification, ambitions that it seems Pulis does not share. The focus is so tightly held on staying in the top flight that he has given no thought and had no plan for what to do once the target was achieved. The players were like kids on the last day of school from the moment 40 points was achieved, there was no real desire to get more, they just wanted to hit the beach with their cocktails with the little umbrella.


Tony Pulis

If the season had ended after 28 games, rather than 38, Pulis would be looking at a summer of praise from pundits, due to the way his team performed in the first part of the season. However, the way his team tailed off and headed off on their holidays the second they hit the 40 point mark is a serious problem. This is something that has been seen repeatedly from Tony Pulis teams, hit 40 points and they hit the beach, no matter how many possible points there are left on the table for them to pick up.

Pulis needs to find a way to find a new target once the first one is achieved and to focus his players on achieving it. For a manager that prides himself on motivation, it is extremely disturbing that he is unable to motivate the players to do anything other than survive. It is not just the achievement and pride gained for the club and its fans that is being missed out on, it is the huge amoounts of prize money on offer for each place. The board will not put up with this kind of failure again.

Marks out of 10: 0


Ben Foster

Foster is firmly established as the Baggies' number one, having grown into a decisive keeper who tries to command his area. He is very much aided by a strong backline that usually consists of four centre halves who are strong in the air and protect him well from his major weakness, the aerial ball. While he tries to command his area, he can still be weak coming for a ball in the air, if the protection is not good and his shotstopping is not top level. Like a lot of keepers, he is prone to making the odd rick, though that is a part of his game that he has improved over time.

Marks out of 10: 5


Boaz Myhill

The back up to Foster who gets to play in the cup games. Sadly for him, they lost both of their cup games, so he only managed two first team appearances, both defeats to teams from divisions below them.

Marks out of 10: -2


Jonny Evans

Evans has grown into a very good centre back, but the issues of niggling injuries still afflict him. The calf problem that led to Manchester United selling him to WBA in the first place is still a problem, a problem that saw him miss two spell out of the team. Most of the time he is a central piece of the team, a team that relies heavily on the defence for its results.

Marks out of 10: 5.5


Marc Wilson

Spent the first half of the season on loan at Bournemouth, where he struggled for games. Managed to get four league games at the end of the season, but did little to make a case for him getting more games next season.

Marks out of 10: 1


Jonas Olsson

The Swedish centre back made a handful of appearances before he returned home to play for Djurgardens IF in March. Once a mainstay of the backline, age caught up with him and he struggled to offer much to the team last season.

Marks out of 10: 2.5


Gareth McAuley

He may be 37 now, but McAuley was handed another year's contract in March as the evergreen defender was pretty much an ever-present in the Baggies' side, only sitting out the final two games of the league season. McAuley's lack of pace means the defence has to sit deep and defend, but there are few better at heading a ball clear than the Northern Ireland centre back.

Marks out of 10: 6.5


Brendan Galloway

The youngster arrived on loan from Everton for the season but, after 3 Premier League games he was dropped and only appeared again for the cups. It was not the best move for him, though he is physically similar to the kind of player Pulis likes, Pulis has never been one for blooding young players.

Marks out of 10: -4


Craig Dawson

Dawson is the archetypal Pulis full back - a centre back. Tall, strong in the air, always looking to tuck in defensively to play narrow, he is perfect for the way Pulis likes to play. Dawson offers little in the way of attacking prowess, but that is not what he is in the team for.

Marks out of 10: 5


Allan Nyom

The right back was a late summer window signing, only to end up spending most of his time playing as a left back for West Brom. Never entirely comfortable out there and it showed in his performances, though he did try and add some attacking thrust when he could.

Marks out of 10: 4.5


Kane Wilson

The teenager made one subsititute appearance in the EFL Cup.

Marks out of 10: 2


Jake Livermore

Livermore arrived in a £10m deal from Hull City in the January transfer window as Pulis looked to add more energy and drive to his ageing midfield. He was pretty much ever-present in the centre of midfield for the Baggies following his arrival, though it did not help the team maintain performance levels once the 40 points barrier was broken.

Marks out of 10: 3


Claudio Yacob

It feels like the Argentine has been sitting in front of the West Brom defence forever providing them defensive cover. I have to admit to being surprised he was just 29, for some reason I assumed he was in his mid-30s and the club were looking to phase him out, hence the signing of Livermore. Yacob is a sitting midfielder who has good positional sense, which usually makes up for his lack of pace, and is happy to hold in front of the defence, just the way Pulis likes his midfield to do. With a deep-lying defensive line behind him, Yacob ensures there are few gaps between midfield and defence by sitting deep.

Marks out of 10: 6


James Morrison

The Scotland midfielder provides a bit of craft and guile in midfield, to go with the hard running and tackling. Not afraid to get stuck in, but his strength is on the ball, where he wants to make the play and be involved high up the pitch. Last season he was a bit in and out of the side, only occasionally playing a full 90 minutes throughout the season. Despite that, Morrison managed to add 5 goals, which makes him one of the higher goalscorers in the team, as only 3 other players scored 5 or more goals for them last season.

Marks out of 10: 5.5


Craig Gardner

Struggled to get into the team, looked a long way short of the level needed in the Prem. He was sent on loan to Birmingham City in the January transfer window.

Marks out of 10: 0


Darren Fletcher

Having performed a minor miracle to come back from a career threatening illness a few years ago, Fletcher performed another minor miracle this season by featuring in every game of West Brom's season. There are very few midfielders who take part in every match, usually they are rotated, even if they do manage to avoid injury, at some point of the season. The club captain did struggle at times though, which, added to his age, saw him allowed to leave the club on a free transfer to Stoke City at the end of the season.

Marks out of 10: 6


Sam Field

The teenager managed to get 5 starts and 4 sub appearances over the course of the season. Showing some positive signs in those 9 games, positive enough for the West Brom coaching staff to talk of him in glowing terms.

Marks out of 10: 5.5


Chris Brunt

After returning from a cruciate ligament injury suffered last season, Brunt once more became Pulis's utility man of choice, playing at left back, left midfield, central midfield and right midfield as the occasion demanded. Never really standing out as a first choice option in any position, despite having an excellent left foot, Brunt has had to settle for being a utility player for a while now.

Marks out of 10: 4


Nacer Chadli

The big summer signing from Tottenham Hotspur started off the season in good form, but faded as the season went on. It did not help that the Belgian winger did not see entirely eye to eye with Tony Pulis, which has led to a lot of speculation over his future.

Marks out of 10: 4.5


James McClean

I have to admit, I struggle to see what McClean brings to the game, other than controversy with some truly hideous and nasty tackles. He does not score or create goals, has no skill and little technical ability. However he does work hard, just that his hard work tends to have little effect on the game. Even Pulis, who favours hard work over skill, only uses him as a back up option, usually coming off the bench to help protect a full back.

Marks out of 10: 0.5


Hal Robson-Kanu

After being a big part of Wales' summer foray into the European Championships, Robson-Kanu was left searching for a club, following his decision to leave Reading. Pulis took a late gamble on him, on transfer deadline day, after struggling to get his main targets. His season was spent mostly on the bench coming on late in games to try and provide an impact. It was a struggle of a season for him, with just 3 goals.

Marks out of 10: 1.5


Matt Phillips

Pulis brought in the winger from QPR in the summer in an attempt to get more attacking threat from the flanks. Midseason Phillips provided it, as he hit a purple patch where he was scoring and creating goals, high on confidence and looking a top class player. Then his confidence went and his performance level dipped markedly in mid-January before his season was disrupted in February by a couple of hamstring injuries.

Marks out of 10: 3


Jonathan Leko

The young winger managed to get 9 substitute appearances in the Prem, as Pulis tried to blood more teenagers than he is usually known for throughout the season.

Marks out of 10: 3.5


Saido Berahino

After a few games where he was clearly unfit, Berahino was dropped from the squad to work on his fitness, only to pick up a ban for a failed drugs test. It was probably a relief to all, as Berahino had still not stopped sulking after having a move to Spurs blocked by the Baggies, when he was sold to Stoke City in January.

Marks out of 10: -9


Jose Salomon Rondon

Rondon has one of the most difficult tasks in all of football, playing lone striker for a Tony Pulis side. It involves much hard work for little reward and with even less service and support. The Venezuelan was the top scorer, with just 8 goals, which tells its own story, as the lack of creativity within the team clearly hinders it and stops there being a slew of chances for the forwards to finish.

Marks out of 10: 6


Rickie Lambert

One start in the EFL Cup vs Northampton Town and a late sub appearance vs Everton in the Premier League were the sum total of Lambert's gametime for WBA last season. He was sent on loan to Cardiff City for the season at the end of the summer transfer window and then released at the end of the season.

Marks out of 10: 2.5

Written by Tris Burke July 13 2017 06:38:43