Following a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Southampton, things will need to change if West Brom Albion are to turn their fortunes around and climb up the table.
First of all, manager Steve Clarke needs to pick his best formation and stick to it. The Baggies changed formations numerous times during the match which disrupted their rhythm, resulting in them barely testing Artur Boruc in the Saints goal.
If things are to improve, at least one more wide player is desperately needed. Graham Dorrans and James Morrison were forced into wide roles and had little impact. Morrison in particular failed to impress and his usual bursting runs nowhere to be seen. He often drifted into the centre in an attempt to involve himself, but this left West Brom with no structure or width.
Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair and Chelsea’s Victor Moses have both been linked with the club, and the pair would add vital pace to the side and stretch the opposition, which West Brom failed to do in their opening game of the season.
The Baggies also need to utilise right back Billy Jones. The ex-Preston North End man has improved drastically since his time at the club, featuring in the side more and more. When he goes forward the crowd gets excited as his has the ability to take on players and deliver good crosses.
He bursts into the opponent’s box at real speed and creates good chances for the side. Despite his clear ability, he was rarely used going forward but Albion’s best chance did come when got himself into the box with good footwork. In future games, I would like to see him get involved offensively more. He always has anchor man Claudio Yacob covering if West Brom lose the ball.
The players also need to gamble more of the long ball. Shane Long works hard up front and even wins flick on’s against taller centre-backs, but it seems like the rest of the side do not expect it. Time after time he won a lost cause, but no one was there to support him.
If the players burst forward onto his knock downs, perhaps West Brom could have registered more shots on target. Nicolas Anelka and Long need to play closer together, to work better as a pair and adapt to each other’s game, but this should come with more game time.
At left back, Goran Popov needs to play. He isn’t afraid to get his foot in and has the full backing of the fans. He adds more to the team going forward than Liam Ridgewell, and possesses an excellent left foot. His delivery from crosses is exceptional, the one against Norwich City last season where Romelu Lukaku scored a winning header immediately springs to mind.
Clarke is a brilliant coach, having proven himself under the likes of Jose Mourinho, so the tactical side of the game should be sorted out during the week. With another signing or two, it shouldn’t be too long before The Baggies’ fortunes turn round.