With the club currently sitting 11th in the table; with 39 points on the board, things are suddenly looking a whole lot better for the Baggies.
After our defeat to Reading in the FA Cup three weeks ago, the atmosphere around the club was hostile to say the least. The fans’ frustrations towards the players and the coaching staff were at boiling point with many, myself included, questioning whether or not Tony Pulis was the right man for the job and whether change was needed.
But after two wins [against Crystal Palace and Manchester United] and a draw [with league leaders Leicester City] in our last three league matches, that hostility has died down considerably with talk now turning to whether or not we can go on and beat our best ever Premier League points tally of 49 points and whether we could possibly secure a top ten finish. How quickly things can change in football, hey!
The catalyst in the team’s resurgence has been manager Pulis changing the team’s approach and playing more of a 4-3-3 system, rather than the rigid 4-2-3-1 that was adopted previously. Since playing a forward three of Salomon Rondon, Saido Berahino and Stephane Sessegnon, the team has looked a million times better when going forward, scoring six times in those three matches and creating a whole host of chances.
A midfield three of Darren Fletcher, Craig Gardner and Claudio Yacob has meant the defence hasn’t been left isolated, but even Fletcher and Gardner seem to have been given more freedom to press forward and support the trio of attackers. The team is now playing with confidence and the fans are definitely feeling encouraged and feeling a lot happier.
The last three matches show that Pulis isn’t just a one trick pony and that he has the ability to adapt and play a style of football that’s not only effective but pleases the fans too. So the question is, is Pulis the right man to take this club forward?
As soon as the ex-Stoke City and Crystal Palace boss was appointed, many saw it as a ‘stop gap’ somewhat, “let him steady the ship and make sure our Premier League status is intact when the TV rights mega deal comes into place and then look at bringing in a head coach that plays a brand of football the fans want to see”.
To be honest, I was thinking along the same lines and couldn’t see him remaining at the Baggies for a long period of time. But my mindset has definitely changed in recent weeks and I’m starting to think that maybe our Welsh head coach has the potential to take us to ‘the next level’ and turn us into a top ten regular side.
Patience is something very few fans seem to possess nowadays; me included, it’s understandable due to the cost of supporting a Premier League team, but I think some perspective is needed. Before our last three matches, we weren’t doing that badly in terms of points and league position. Yes the football wasn’t pretty, we weren’t creating enough and we’re over reliant on our defence, but people are forgetting that this is Pulis’ first full season in charge.
He is starting to show now that he deserves more time. This team definitely has potential and given another transfer window, we could see a much improved Albion to the one we are seeing currently. Pulis has created a really strong spine to the team and I feel if he is allowed to compliment that with some attacking players in the summer, the kind of football that has been on show in recent weeks, could become a mainstay and it could turn us into a force to be reckoned with.