A Talented Squad But Promotion Is Fading: The West Bromwich Albion Conundrum

The Baggies are without a win in their last seven matches in the Championship
11:20, 01 Mar 2022

“You’re not fit to wear the shirt.” That is what echoed around The Hawthorns on Monday night as West Bromwich Albion were defeated 2-0 by Swansea City in the Championship as manager Steve Bruce’s wait for a first win goes on. He has overseen five matches with the Baggies and lost four of them, while the team have not won in their last seven.

Something has gone drastically wrong for the West Midlands outfit this season. Many would have tipped them to be in the running for automatic promotion and most of their performances have suggested they are what their position outlines, mid-table. The fans have been disillusioned with the players this year and it is understandable. Their frustration is understandable because on paper, the squad is more than capable of finishing at the top end of the Championship. But for whatever reason, the players have shied away from showing fight and as a result their promotion dream has started to fade right in front of their eyes.

Bruce has already come out and revealed his frustrations at certain performances saying that they are simply not good enough for a club of West Brom’s size and it was only a few days before the Swansea clash that he called on his players to compete for 90 minutes. It would suggest that he feels his players hide away at certain points in games and that is why they are struggling to turn their fortunes around. The Baggies boss has a wealth of experience in this division, having achieved promotion to the Premier League on four occasions, so he has more authority than most to know when the players are the cause of their own demise. They seem to throw their toys out of the pram if things aren’t going their way in the early stages which then makes their capitulation inevitable. 

While Bruce’s predecessor Valerien Ismael took the brunt of the criticism from supporters, recent performances would suggest that he was hung out to dry by the players, just as his successor is being now. Unfortunately for them, they will not be able to hide behind Bruce, who as already mentioned, boasts four promotions from the Championship. He has tried to transform the way West Brom play away from Ismael’s tactics but a number of the senior players appear to be cruising through the season. There are some talented players in their ranks with the likes of Karlan Grant, Callum Robinson, Grady Diangana, and when you combine that with the experience of Kyle Bartley and Alex Mowatt, their dismal campaign is difficult to grasp. Nonetheless, they have ultimately cowered away from responsibility.

Following their poor performance against Swansea in front of the Sky Sports cameras, they cannot hide away from how cowardly they have been in certain matches, which has rightly angered the fan base, who now know that they most likely failed the last manager. The squad mentality is weak, but it cannot just fall at Ismael’s door. The players have had five matches to ‘free the shackles’ and yet are still struggling to have an impact on the field. The Championship is the most unforgiving division in the world and the Baggies will gain no sympathy for their lack of determination this term. 

The league table doesn’t lie which proves that West Brom have not been up to the standards of those who are in position to achieve promotion and reach the play-offs. They are currently sat in 13th, eight points off sixth and the beauty of the Championship has shown time and again that a gap of that size is not too great. The only thing holding the Baggies back is themselves. They don't look like they are even up for the fight of trying to make up for their lost ground in the play-off race and Bruce will likely be counting down the days until the summer transfer window to arrive so that he can oversee an overhaul that will change the  weak, toxic mentality that is currently souring the dressing room and spilling onto the pitch. A clean slate is needed at The Hawthorns and it cannot come soon enough.

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