As the transfer window slammed shut last Wednesday evening, it’s safe to say that there weren’t many fans out there as disgruntled as the West Brom fans.
Swathes of Baggies took to social media to air their frustrations, me being one of them, with many classing it as our worst summer transfer window from our time in the Premier League.
I’m not going to say I wasn’t disappointed with our business over the summer. Even though I was very pleased with the additions of Matt Phillips and Nacer Chadli, the other three deals had a very ‘Albion’ feel to them (a loan, a free agent and a Cameroonian right-back not many of us had heard of) and the failure to bring in a playmaker/forward of genuine quality was a massive mistake in my opinion.
However, after sleeping on it (for more than a few nights I might add), I don’t think the transfer window will be as catastrophic as many envisage it to be. Why is that I hear you ask. Three names, Kane Wilson, Sam Field and Jonathan Leko.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the circus that is the transfer window and especially ‘deadline day’. That desire for new signings takes over and you tend to forget what the club already has at their disposal. As already stated, I definitely feel the club were one or two signings short, but I personally don’t think the squad is as weak as most believe it to be.
The integration of the three youngsters; Wilson, Field and Leko, into the first-team set up has not only bumped up the numbers but, clearly evident from their recent performances in Albion colours, added extra quality also.
I was at the Middlesbrough game a couple of weeks back to see Field’s first start for the club and, like the majority of Baggies fans that day, was hugely impressed with the 18-year-old’s performance. Sitting in front of the back four alongside Claudio Yacob, he looked calm and composed throughout, rarely giving the ball away, keeping the play ticking over nicely with smart, simple balls to his teammates.
He read the game very well also, breaking up play and intercepting the opposition effectively. It was a performance 31-year-old Darren Fletcher would have been proud of, with the skipper one of the first to congratulate the youngster on such an accomplished performance.
Leko is a player I very much like the look of. Shooting onto the scene with a few cameo appearances at the end of last season, the winger excited with bags of trickery and pace, something that had been severely lacking throughout last season’s campaign and it definitely got the backsides off seats with the fans joyous at finally getting to see some flair grace the Hawthorns pitch.
Even though he’s still very raw, he is an exciting prospect with the potential to make a huge name for himself in the game. The arrival of Chadli has most likely seen his playing time this season take a hit. but Pulis is obviously a huge fan and I have no doubt it won’t be long before he’s a firm fixture in the starting XI.
Wilson is the one out of the three I have seen the least of, but from speaking with fans who have seen plenty of him at the various youth levels and in pre-season, it sounds like we have another whose age doesn’t emulate his performances on the pitch.
The left-back position has been a problem area for the Baggies arguably since the days of Neil Clement, but with the emergence of Wilson, it may be that it’s a position we won’t have to worry about much longer.
It begs the question as to why the club went for a loan signing at left-back, Brendan Galloway, than a permanent signing. The media reported that the club weren’t willing to meet Leeds United’s valuation of target Charlie Taylor, but it may have been the case that the club had earmarked Wilson for the spot in the immediate future.
Pulis has taken a lot of flak from the fans in recent weeks. Whether it’s justifiable or not, one thing he needs to be applauded for is integrating these academy graduates into the first-team set up and actually giving them an opportunity to prove themselves on the big stage.
I think in the small amount of time they have had on the pitch, they have already proven that they could all be useful members of the squad and be called upon if needed.
Even though we made five signings in the summer, in reality it’s eight with the emergence of these three into the first-team mix, which is a huge testament to the academy and the work they are doing.