West Brom; a fairly unpredictable team who went from yo-yoing to a fairly stable Premier League side. But recently, they are beginning to look like like a team who could break into the Europa League places. So what has changed?
First and foremost, they’ve acquired a manager who is almost immune from relegation. It feels like Tony Pulis could manage a side from the conference and avoid the drop in the Premier League – his teams are notorious for their organisation.
If I own an English club, I’d sign Tony Pulis. It’s as simple as that.
Jose Mourinho 2015
It’s no surprise that the Baggies manager has received praise from Mourinho; Manchester United play a very similar style to Pulis, even with a billion pound transfer fund.
But, however much you despise this style of play, you can’t deny its successes. The Welsh manager soon stabilised Stoke City – and now, in a richer Premier League, he’s doing the same with West Brom.
— Football__Tweet (@Football__Tweet) December 14, 2016
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For only the second time in the Premier League since Duncan Ferguson for Everton in 1997, Salomon Rondon went on to score a hat-trick of headers. The Baggies strategy is clear – and it’s particularly frustrating to play against if you don’t score early, but a nightmare if you go one behind.
West Brom have only lost in the league this season to teams who are above them in the top seven. Without star players, you simply cannot breakdown the Tony Pulis bus. But why are they still managing to score goals!?
Matt Phillips has been vital for West Brom this season, he gives them the flair that a Pulis team would generally lack – someone who can individually produce goals. Yep, the Baggies will play long balls and put in plenty of crosses, but this doesn’t mean they’re incapable of good football at times too.
It’s probably just as frustrating for fans at the Hawthorns, as it is for the opposition supporters. No one really wants to see a snorefest game of football, but it’s a results-orientated business. We may hate it, but if a team can set up to defend strongly – they can simply rely on percentages for their goals, the Welsh gaffer is a master at this – and he will continue to get results.
As well as scoring most set-piece goals, West Brom have scored most PL headers this season (11 goals from 5 different players) pic.twitter.com/fepWm1LgKu
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 14, 2017
Whether it’s a scramble from a corner, West Brom’s 18th cross of the game or a crazy deflection – it’s going to happen eventually. Their manager knows how to score, and doesn’t care for good football. But why should he? Chelsea have reverted to this negative style plenty of times. The January transfer window could be huge for the Baggies, it’s only a matter of time before Pulis has his perfect formula. Once he does, West Brom could be challenging for Europe, each season.
We don’t even want to think about how Tony Pulis would spend a massive transfer budget. £100million worth of defensive players? Probably. But to be fair, we can’t complain if we can’t stop his style of play. He has a method that works, and until it’s proven unsuccessful – why should he change?