The Chalkboard: James Shan’s flexibility can prove key for West Brom

Under James Shan, West Brom are finally finding some momentum. Their displays may not be pretty, but it could be something that gives them a greater chance of triumphing in the play-offs.

Their performance against Rotherham, for the most part, was poor. They went into the break 1-0 down against a side who were facing relegation.

But cue the substitutions. With players back from injury the Baggies now have a much stronger squad and as such, it proved pivotal last weekend with the individuals they brought on.

In the past there haven’t been too many options to turn to on the bench, but ahead of what is now the most vital point of the season, that isn’t an issue. It’s a factor that’s also allowing Shan to show his tactical flexibility.

On the chalkboard

This was the XI that finished the match against Rotherham last Saturday. There are three changes from the team that started the game. Jacob Murphy came on in place of Mason Holgate, whilst Matt Phillips and Hal Robson-Kanu replaced Stefan Johansen and Jay Rodriguez.

Robson-Kanu entered the fray with just four minutes left so didn’t make an impact, but the other two certainly did, with the attacking changes proving vital in West Brom going onto win the game.

It showed Shan’s ability to adapt and going into the play-offs this will be imperative. Phillips’ return in recent weeks has been timely and his versatility has seen him play at wing back and also in central midfield under the new manager.

Featuring in a more advanced central role than Johansen when he came on, it saw a slight change of system which helped inject more penetration and pace into Albion’s midfield.

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All good managers are flexible and possess plan Bs and the way Shan was able to change the game with substitutions last weekend is evidence of this.

With the versatility Murphy and Phillips bring it can also give Shan the ability to change formation entirely if he wanted to.

Should things not be going to plan, then the added attacking quality they can bring from either a wing back role or as out-and-out wingers will be game changing in the play-offs.

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