How Tony Pulis’ magic touch has brought the best out of Brown Ideye
How fickle football can be. Merely weeks ago West Bromwich Albion record signing Brown Ideye, snatched from Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kiev for a cool £10m, was labelled a forward flop.
Yet he may now be the west Midland club’s best hope of reaching Wembley.
Perhaps the pressure of being the Baggies’ biggest-ever purchase was too much but, more likely, Nigeria international Ideye just needed time to adapt to the demands of the Premier League (which West Brom are 6/1 to be relegated from).
Shorn of confidence, the striker had bagged just one Premier League goal when Tony Pulis was brought in to replace Alan Irvine and halt Albion’s descent into the drop zone.
The striker looked set for a £3.77m January switch to Qatari club Al Gharafa on deadline day, which would have seen West Brom make a loss of just over £6m.
However, fate intervened, and the West Midlands outfit’s failure to lure Carlton Cole to The Hawthorns meant Ideye stayed put, and how glad Pulis must now be.
Since being given a regular run of games, the 26-year-old has shown the promise that convinced Albion to open their wallets in the first place.
With compatriot Victor Anichebe sidelined and Saido Berahino’s continuing off-field issues, Ideye has stepped up to help propel Albion up the table and into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
It all began at Burnley, when the Baggies fought back to snatch a draw, with super sub Ideye grabbing the equaliser. Since then the Lagos-born frontman has never looked back, netting three times in his last two games, with the highlight being a brilliant cup brace and assist against West Ham United.
So, has Pulis’ protective arm around his shoulder paid off? According to Ideye, the canny coach has been instrumental in his resurgence.
“I didn’t really have that much [playing] time when Alan was here.
“This time is really different because I have more time and more of a role to play, holding the ball up is what I am good at. The way Tony wants me to play suits my game,” stated the back-in-form forward.
Ideye certainly seems to be thriving under Pulis’ more direct approach, after almost hitting a hat-trick against the Hammers. Perfect positioning and a confident finish for his first, followed by an impressive leaping header and somersault celebration, show a frontman back to his best.
According to Pulis, Ideye has “just got to keep going” if he is to retain his spot in the starting XI.
“That’s very important because of the lack of competition because we have only got Victor Anichebe who is injured at the moment, so Brown is like a new signing for us,” added the former Stoke City coach.
Whilst these quotes may reveal that Pulis’ work with Ideye was perhaps forced by circumstance, it is testament to the experienced gaffer that he is able to work with the raw materials at his disposal in a way that predecessor Irvine was unable.
“It’s confidence – that’s all it is. Confidence is everything.We’re delighted. You could not work with a nicer guy. He has been desperate to do well and it is smashing to see him enjoying the fruits of his labours,” claimed Pulis.
Ideye still has some way to go to prove he his the man to lead West Brom’s attack indefinitely, and has only just begun to justify his pricetag.
Albion fans will certainly be hoping he has turned a corner, but a few games without a goal could see the frontman soon dubbed a villain or failure once again.
Helping Albion escape the drop and advance in the FA Cup, where West Brom are outsiders at 10/1 to lift the trophy, would certainly aid his cause.