2015/2016 Finish: 14
In typical Tony Pulis fashion, West Brom finished 14th last season. They were difficult to break down defensively, fielding up to five center halfs at once during the majority of the season, and the only club to score fewer goals was Aston Villa, who were abysmal all year. The side led by Tony Pulis promises much of the same in the upcoming campaign, though with other clubs strengthening, WBA may struggle to maintain their league position and their premier league status may be in jeopardy.
Transfers In: Matt Phillips (RW)
Phillips arrived at the club from Queens Park Rangers after QPR failed to earn promotion. Phillips will fit the counter-attacking style of Pulis and will offer a pacey option to play off of Rondon. The winger played 44 matches for QPR last season tallying 8 goals and 5 assists.
Transfers Out: Anichebe (FW), Sessegnon (AMC), and Lindegaard (GK) (Released).
The three men who were released from the club did not feature very prominently last season. Anichebe took part in only 10 unproductive games, managing 13 shots and no goals or assists. Stephane Sessegnon played a slightly larger role, playing 1761 minutes, scoring two and setting up two more. Meanwhile, Lindegaard only registered 1 appearance for West Brom, spending most of the season out on loan to Preston.
Key Player(s): Salomon Rondon and the curious case of Saido Berahino
Rondon came to the Hawthornes at the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign from Zenit St. Petersburg. The striker’s size and aerial prowess made him a perfect fit for Tony Pulis’ system. Rondon notched 9 goals and 2 assists in 30 games in his first season at the club. The Venezuelan international will be expected to continue, if not improve on, his goal scoring rate last campaign in a side that struggles to create many goal scoring opportunities. Rondon’s goals and hold up play are crucial components of West Brom’s success going forward.
Saido was used as a sub in 14 or his 31 appearances last season and only scored four goals. In the previous year, however; the young, English striker scored 14 goals and started 32 of 38 matches. Berahino’s head seemed to have been turned by the advances of Tottenham in the summer of 2015, when WBA’s chairman Jeremy Peace demanded and extortionate amount for the young Englishman, which scuppered the potential deal. If the club can salvage their relationship with Berahino, the promising striker could prove valuable once again in their attempts to progress up the table. Unfortunately, I think it is too far gone and Berahino may be on his way out of the West Midlands.
Predicted 2016/17 Finish: 17
Tony Pulis is notorious for putting out resolute, defensively sound teams that are consistent, if nothing else. Pulis has never earned many plaudits for his style of football, but it is tough to argue against it being effective. As effective as Tony Pulis’ style is, it has its limitations and drawbacks. As strong as they are defensively, the current squad at the Hawthornes is thin up top and lacking in creativity, in the end, this may lead to a relegation battle for the club. Pulis has managed finishes between 11th and 14th for 8 straight seasons in the Premiership, but due to the rest of the league strengthening and West Brom remaining relatively stagnant, just staying up may be a more difficult task, but I believe they will escape the drop and land in 17th.