Premier League profile 2015/16: West Bromwich Albion
Tony Pulis, seen by many as the perfect man to steer any struggling side clear of relegation, was chosen by West Bromwich Albion to do exactly that as their head coach last term, successfully accomplishing their target in the West Midlands.
Although, in his first full season in charge, the former Stoke City boss will aim to oversee his Baggies side move a lot further up the Premier League table in what could be a more promising campaign.
West Brom are one of the clubs with European places beyond their grasp, but a push for a top 10 finish is seemingly achievable, and they are 10/3 with Coral to reach this feat, having rallied to a relatively impressive 13th-place last term.
Pulis’ reputation for implementing the long-ball approach into his set-up is beyond retrievable now, having deployed this strategy effectively during his time with the Potters, but don’t expect any wholesale tactical switches this term.
The Welshman sticks to what works, and his methods have been proven to do so in recent seasons, drilling a great deal of determination into his Baggies squad earlier this year, defiantly achieving results on a smaller budget with his proud approach.
With Ben Foster to come back between the sticks sometime in the autumn, a goalkeeper who possesses a good talent for distribution, along with the likes of new signing James Chester and Joleon Lescott in the rearguard, that trusted long-ball style may continue.
Although, there may be a more direct approach taken down the flanks and through midfield, with last season’s arrival Darren Fletcher easily capable of pulling the strings and searching for the wide players.
Fletcher’s fellow Scotland international James Morrison will play his part in that tactical ploy, while defensive enforcer Claudio Yacob will make sure his more creative midfield partners have time and plenty of possession.
Republic of Ireland international winger James McClean has enjoyed a strong start to his Baggies career in pre-season, albeit a controversial one, and will undoubtedly be a key creative spark with his pace and crossing ability.
The Derry attacker’s wingplay, along with that of Callum McManaman and Northern Irishman Chris Brunt will see Pulis’ team rely heavily on deliveries from wide positions, aiming for their talented crop of forwards.
Up top, retaining Saido Berahino is essential, with Pulis recently praising the future England star’s calm handling of himself during heated speculation linking the striker with a move to Tottenham (66/1 to finish top scorer).
Berhaino is sure to continue to impress in front of goal, while the club’s record £10m signing Brown Ideye will hope to make more of a substantial impact after a maiden campaign to settle in at The Hawthorns.
As well as pace and a threat in behind Premier League defences for the Baggies, Victor Anichebe will provide the muscle and the top-flight experience in order to help Pulis enjoy a strong season.
Attacking stars Bakary Sako and Rickie Lambert are set to sign on at the club too, meaning the Baggies have rebuilt a well-balanced side which they will hope can kick on this term and keep sights on a top-half finish, rather than getting dragged into a ruthless relegation battle.
Sticking to his guns, Pulis could potentially see a lift in Premier League places this season, though there is always a threat in this unpredictable division and the hopeful West Midlands club are 4/1 to face relegation.