1. We are desperately lacking creativity
Talk about stating the obvious. The statistics speak for themselves. Across Europe’s top five divisions, the Baggies had the worst ‘efforts at goal’ ratio, we created less opportunities than our woeful relegated Midland rivals Aston Villa and only scored 34 goals in 38 league matches.
The games were painful to watch on more than a handful of occasions with us failing the register a single shot on target on seven occasions, yes seven occasions (that’s not far off a quarter of a season)!
Salomon Rondon’s tally of ten goals in the league was seen as a minor miracle by the fans considering how little service he received.
Pulis has created a really strong spine to the team though (Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Rondon) and I feel if he is allowed to compliment that with some attacking players in the summer, we could see a much improved Albion to the one we have saw for the majority of last season and ultimately turn us into a force to be reckoned with.
We have already been linked with the likes of Enner Valencia (West Ham United), Matt Phillips (QPR) and Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), who are exactly the kind of players we need; so hopefully, once the season is up and running, our failings in front of goal last season will be but a distant memory.
Vital summer ahead though.
2. Fans still split on Tony Pulis
Even though Jeremy Peace hasn’t come out and confirmed it yet, it looks a safe bet that boss Pulis will be in charge of the Baggies come the start of next season. What’s less certain though is will the majority of fans be behind our baseball cap obsessive head coach or against him?
Currently the fans seem pretty split to me. There is no denying that Pulis is a great man manager with the ability to extract the best from even the mediocre players and makes sure 100% effort is given throughout every 90 minutes of football. However many of the Albion faithful are severely concerned with the aesthetic side to Pulis’ approach.
As already stated, creativity is a major issue and those who aren’t a fan of Pulis feel that regardless of who comes in, we will still create very little in front of goal. I sense now more than ever the fans frustrations and really worry that, if we don’t have a productive transfer window and endure a poor start, the animosity towards the coaching staff and team will simply carry on into the next campaign.
Pulis needs to prove from the off he has the capability of adapting his approach and playing a more attractive brand of football otherwise the ‘Pulis out’ brigade ranks will surely increase and the hostility intensifying.
3. Promising youngsters within our ranks
There is no denying that this season has been a damp squib. Safety was all but secured with about eight games remaining, but instead of pushing on and beating our biggest-ever Premier league points tally (49pts), the campaign well and truly fizzled out with the team unable to register a win in the remaining nine games.
However, the one bright spark within that dour spell was the emergence of Jonathan Leko. Pulis for a while had promised to give some of the youngsters a chance going into the remaining quarter of the season, but even though they were regularly included within the matchday squads, it looked as though none were going to actually get any minutes on the pitch.
However on April 2, away to Sunderland, Leko was brought on as a substitute for Saido Berahino in the 78th minute.
He then went on to make his first start for the Baggies against West Ham towards the end of April, and even though the Hammers won the game comfortably 3-0, Leko put in an impressive performance, one that saw him go on and start the majority of the remaining fixtures.
Even though he’s still very raw, the 17-year-old looks an exciting prospect and with Sam Field and Tyler Roberts making brief cameos in the last game of the season against Liverpool, the hope is that they too can make a similar impact to Leko, with all three going on to become mainstays of the first-team squad next season.