In quotes printed in The Express & Star, Chris Brunt has claimed that Harvey Barnes departing in January may have cost West Brom promotion.
As such, it’s a damning indictment of Albion’s poor recruitment in the last window.
West Brom’s season was decided from penalties. After 48 matches it seemed like a harsh eventuality. But the fact of the matter is, the Baggies weren’t good enough to go up.
There were a number of reasons for why. Sacking Darren Moore in March arguably didn’t help but the loss of Barnes, who returned to Leicester after a loan spell in January, hit the club hard.
Reflecting upon the campaign and where things went wrong, Albion skipper Brunt suggested that the youngster’s departure may have cost them in their hunt to get back into the Premier League.
He told The Express & Star:
“When he left it was a massive loss for us because I think he scored ten goals and created countless others in half a season.
“If you sit down and look back, that might have been the difference in us losing out in the play-offs and getting promoted automatically.”
To put it simply, West Brom’s recruitment during the winter transfer window was incredibly poor. When Barnes departed, a replacement was needed. Albion’s performances in the first half of the season hadn’t been particularly inspiring and once the 21-year-old left, the cracks started to appear.
Despite having the goals of Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle, there was a significant lack of creativity. Reading into Brunt’s comments, it says a lot about the Baggies’ transfer dealings in January.
Had they signed an able replacement then they may well have found themselves in the Premier League next term.
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Over the winter they added Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero to their ranks on loan. But both players were incredibly disappointing and didn’t come close to replicating the sort of performances Barnes did.
Foreseeing this obviously would have been difficult for Albion’s top officials. However, it’s another indication that if West Brom are to go up next season, they need to be far shrewder in the market.