Tony Pulis needs to look at himself, his tactics and team selection, too often is he blaming the schedule or referees. We have the best squad we’ve had for a long time and Pulis deserves credit for bringing players like Jonny Evans, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Kieran Gibbs among others.
One tweak Pulis has made over the last couple of games has seen Jake Livermore move into a holding midfield role with Gareth Barry and Krychowiak a little further forward either side of him. Now on the face of this, it seems like that would bring a nice balance to the team, however, with Barry now in the latter years of his career, he’s starting to look out of place and he simply cannot cover the sort of ground Pulis is expecting of a West Bromwich Albion central midfielder.
Now, this brings me to the long ball tactics, something that has split most West Brom fans. I do not mind long ball football when it played effectively and successfully. The number of hopeful balls played long to the lonely Salomon Rondon against Southampton was borderline desperate.
Rondon has to shrug off one of two players every time and then wait for the little support that arrives on the odd occasion. Again fans are split in their opinions on Rondon, he is somewhat a marmite player. Unless Pulis signs a player capable of getting on the end of 50 yards balls, Andy Carroll esque, which are few and far between in the Premier League, a change is a must. It is simply not working in terms of creating chances and our strikers are all bereft of confidence.
We’ve looked much more confident going forward when Jay Rodriguez and Rondon have both played a central role, ie. against Watford and when we’ve resorted to 3-5-2 against the Hornets. It wasn’t the two strikers playing that cost us the game after going two up, it was the fact that despite holding a good lead we decided to defend our 18-yard box and invite pressure which led to our eventual downfall.
With injury concerns over Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson, hopefully, one if not both will be fit for the visit of Manchester City, a game in which we are almost certain to play a 3-5-2 system, this is a chance for Pulis to settle on a formation that can carry us forward.
I for one would like to see Matt Phillips take up the right-sided role, Allan Nyom can do a job but looks clumsy and always has a mistake in him. With Dawson, you know what you are going to get but in terms of quality. In the opposition half, it is very little, he is much preferred to a central role and from the games this season, he has been our best central defender.
Evans hasn’t recovered last season’s form, that may be due to a lack of pre-season or the transfer rumours but none the less he hasn’t looked like the £30 million man we’ve seen in the past.
With two wins this season it’s not time to panic and I think Pulis will be the man to take us forward for at least this season but he needs to settle on a formation and team selection. The next set of games will be very difficult but I wouldn’t put it pass Pulis and the team to find a result in there somewhere, I just hope he is brave in his selections.