Ever since the arrival of Tony Pulis at The Hawthorns, West Brom have started to rise up the league slowly.
For years West Brom were always fancied by many pundits as relegation candidates. Yet, the likes of Roy Hodsgon, Steve Clarke and now Tony Pulis have bought stability to the Black Country club.
Now, after a solid start to the season, can West Brom go out and win a trophy this season?
I’m not suggesting that they will win the Premier League, but there have been a number of positive signs over the summer that the Baggies can put together a cup run.
Transfer-wise, West Brom have been relatively quiet, yet the business they have done has been very good.
We did see the departure of their captain Darren Fletcher this summer, but West Brom went out and replaced him with Gareth Barry.
In my opinion, Barry is a very underrated transfer this summer. The job that he does is comparable to what Matic is currently doing for Manchester United. The way he protects the back four is remarkable, and allows the more attacking players in the West Brom side to be more creative.
You don’t play 629 games in the Premier League without having some talent, and Barry is a brilliant replacement for Fletcher.
They’ve also signed Jay Rodriguez from Southampton for an undisclosed fee.
Rodriguez has had an injury hit career wherever he’s gone, but when he’s fit, he’s a brilliant talent. We’ve seen in his time at Burnley and Southampton what he’s capable of, and Rodriguez is exactly what West Brom need.
Though they were solid defensively last season, they were lacking goals. Salomon Rondon was the club’s top scorer last season with 8 goals, and most of the defenders scored more goals than any midfielder or attacker, so the arrival of Rodriguez will certainly help the Baggies out up top.
West Brom’s latest signing is also a positive one, in the form of Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig.
Burke first burst onto the scene with Nottingham Forest, and was labelled as one of the club’s brightest ever prospects. Then, Burke was snatched up by the controversial Bundesliga club, and though showed a few bright sparks throughout the season, he was mainly a backup to the likes of Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner.
Now, back in the UK, Burke will bring a dynamic aspect to West Brom. With Burke along with his fellow countryman Matt Phillips on the other wing, it will add a bit more dynamite to the West Brom attack.
It’s clear to see that this season’s West Brom squad is far better than last season’s squad.
Many people criticise Tony Pulis for playing boring football, and this may be the case, but it works!
Everyone knows exactly what their role is within the squad and the amount of work Pulis does studying the opposition is very noticeable.
We look at a few games last season, where West Brom almost held Chelsea to a draw both home and away, add to this an impressive victory at home to Arsenal and respectable draws at home to Tottenham and away at Manchester United.
Also, this season, West Brom have already gone to Burnley and won. Burnley were coming off an unbelievable result away at Chelsea, add to that their impressive home record last season, this was a difficult game for the Baggies. Yet, they executed their plan perfectly, and came away with a well-fought victory.
Also, Pulis is very capable of taking a team to a cup final. In his time at Stoke, he took them to their first ever FA Cup final, where they were narrowly edged out by Manchester City.
And if you look on paper, this West Brom squad is far better than that Stoke City team, so there, again, is no reason why Pulis can’t take West Brom to a cup final.
It puts down a marker
This goes for numerous clubs in the Premier League.
When you are a club who constantly finishes mid-table, who isn’t going to win the league, but are in no danger of getting relegated, why not aim for silverware?
The bigger clubs tend to treat these games nowadays as a chance to breed in some youngsters to let them get first team experience, so there’s always a chance to take advantage of that fact.
We saw this with Southampton last season reaching the League Cup final, and it was a real positive in Southampton’s season.
So why can’t West Brom do what Southampton did? Well, there are already signs that Pulis might be aiming for silverware this season.
In the Baggies’ second round League Cup tie against Accrington Stanley, Pulis fielded a very strong side which featured the likes of Salomon Rondon, Gareth Barry and Jay Rodriguez all featuring, and they came away with a 3-1 victory.
In the third round, West Brom play Manchester City. On paper, a daunting prospect, but the fixtures around the tie help West Brom. City play Liverpool, Feyenoord and Watford before playing the third-round tie, while West Brom play Brighton and West Ham, two very winnable fixtures for the Baggies.
If it all goes wrong, then Pulis can easily target the FA Cup as a main target. If by Christmas, West Brom look quite safe from relegation, then Pulis can really attack the FA Cup head on, something I’m sure all Baggies fans would love.
In a nutshell, yes, of course West Brom can win a trophy this season. They have a squad that can compete against most of the teams they will play in the cup competitions.
They also have a manager who is a great tactician and a backroom staff that can target the weaknesses of every team they play very well, and I truly believe, that this could be the season we see West Bromwich Albion’s name on the trophy yet again.
Written by Sion Misra
Follow Sion on Twitter @sionmisra
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