Could West Brom cause some shocks this season?
With Tony Pulis in your dugout, you’re guaranteed Premier League survival.
The Welshman has never been relegated during his twenty year career as a manager, an astonishing achievement. So West Bromwich Albion fans shouldn’t worry about their upcoming campaign, maybe they should be expecting more.
The Baggies have been busy in the transfer market so far this summer, bringing in the likes of James McClean, James Chester and Rickie Lambert to add to what is an already solid squad. Lambert’s move from Liverpool to the Hawthorns could turn out to be one of the signings of the season.
For just £3 million, Pulis has bagged himself a proven Premier League goalscorer. He might be 33 years of age, and last season at Liverpool didn’t really work of for him, but Lambert is still a striker of real quality.
It was always going to be a struggle for the former Southampton forward at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers plays a style of football which just does not suit Lambert. Whereas this season, Pulis should be able to get the England man back to the form he was showing at St Marys.
Having a big target man such as Lambert at his disposal is just what West Brom need. It will be fascinating to see how he and Saido Berahino work as a partnership this season. The England under 21 star should be able to work off Lambert, and use his pace to run onto flick ons and in behind defences.
The front two will also be able to thrive off service from West Brom’s creative midfielders. With McClean and Callum McManaman on the wings, the Baggies have pace and skill in abundance. Add Stephane Sessegnon into the mix, who can play out wide but is more threatening in his preferred number ten role, and West Brom have serious promise going forward.
Pulis did miss out on Abou Diaby, who decided to join French side Marseille after turning down a contract at the Hawthorns. But this shouldn’t be too much of a setback. Diaby is a massive liability due to his well-documented injury problems, and West Brom have plenty of decent options in central midfield. Skipper Darren Fletcher can be partnered with either Craig Gardner, Claudio Yacob or James Morrison; all established and capable Premier League midfielders.
There’s been a lot of talk over the years about Pulis’ style of football and he’s received critics for being too direct and negative. But you can’t fault the results. Pulis has proven at Stoke City and Crystal Palace that there is still a place for a more conventional style of football even in the modern game.
But with this West Brom side there is a lot of potential a 14th place finish in the Premier League last season was solid. Pulis came in midway through the campaign to replace Pepe Mel, and at that time relegation was a serious possibility.
West Brom have for a long time been classed as a ‘yo-yo team’, not able to consolidate in the Premier League. But now, the Baggies can push on and build on the solid foundations Pulis has set.
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