Can West Brom challenge for European football this season?
West Bromwich Albion are a football club which have developed a reputation under Tony Pulis that they are a club that plays boring football with little possession. However, it can be said that under the so called ‘boring football’ Tony Pulis has never finished lower that 14th with West Brom and last season they managed a very respectful 10th placed finish, not bad for a team of West Brom’s stature.
After the 2016/17 season which saw West Brom finish 10th, their second best finish in the Premier League, Pulis has made significant progress with his squad after getting rid of players that were no longer needed and recruiting players that will take them to the next level.
Firstly, we will start with their outgoings. In my opinion Pulis has gotten rid of some real dead wood over the summer with Callum McManaman and Darren Fletcher leaving The Hawthorn’s. Callum McManaman made a great start to his career with Wigan Athletic and made the move to West Brom with the hope that he could take his game to the next level. Unfortunately, injuries and a lack of playing time has hindered his progress meaning that at this moment he simply isn’t good enough for the Premier League and so his move to Sunderland was in both parties interests. Darren Fletcher was a player that was a good servant for West Brom and was a player that maybe Pulis would’ve kept but I doubt that he would of played every game for West Brom considering his age and especially with the calibre of players that Pulis has brought in. A move to Stoke was again the right move to take for both parties and I’m sure Fletcher will have a good stint at Stoke. So with West Brom getting rid of these two players it opened the door for their replacements and then some more.
For West Brom who don’t necessarily spend a lot of money their spending in the summer transfer has been nothing short of perfect for the direction that the club wants to go in. The club first signed veteran defender Gareth Barry from Everton for an undisclosed fee. The 36 year old, who signed on an initial one year deal, is the perfect replacement for Darren Fletcher as he brings with him a wrath of experience from his fine career that saw him win the Premier League during his time with Manchester City. After the signing of Barry followed another major coup for the club as they signed striker Jay Rodriguez from Southampton for 12 million pounds. Rodriguez will be a great partner up front for Salomon Rondon as he will peel off and make runs for Rondon to flick balls into. Rodriguez fell out of favour at Southampton after his career stalled when playing for Southampton away at Manchester City Rodriguez ruptured his ACL after a tackle which ruled him out of the World Cup in Brazil. He didn’t play a single game the following season and never got back into the main striker spot at St Mary’s. West Brom is the perfect club for Rodriguez to rebuild his career and he is already off the mark this season after scoring a header against Stoke in their recent 1-1 draw. Later followed the signing of Scotland international Oliver Burke who joined West Brom from RB Leipzig for 15 million pounds. Burke who is Scotlands most expensive player ever will be hoping that his move to West Brom will bring him the game time he so desperately craves. And finally West Brom got a real bargain on transfer deadline day as they signed Arsenal left back Kieran Gibbs for just 7 million pounds. For Gibbs it was a no brainer as he was getting little game time at Arsenal and with it being a World Cup year the move to West Brom was a no brainer.
With the squad Tony Pulis has at his disposal the fans must really be thinking that European football is a realistic aim and i would back them as a dark horse to be troubling the top six for this season. In terms of teams it can be said that if they make The Hawthorns a real fortress then the top teams will not be looking forward to playing them and teams like Arsenal could suffer.
They have made a good start to the season already being unbeaten with two wins and a draw and they sit in 5th place level on points with Manchester City and I can see them having a great season.
Let us know what you think about West Brom’s chances for this season and who else you think could be in for a great season by writing in the comments section below.