Now that James Shan is in charge of West Brom until the end of the season he can finally get to work on fully instilling his own ideas into the club.
The 40-year-old finds himself in a unique situation. Initially, he would have thought he’d be there for a minimum of a couple of games but now he’s been tasked with steering them through the final weeks of the season.
For the most part he’s earned his call. That’s despite what could have been a damaging 3-2 loss against Bristol City. But after reverting to a tactic that had worked under Darren Moore, Albion got back to winning ways last weekend.
It was a gamble but it paid off, particularly with their two key men looking as good as they have been all season.
West Brom flirted with the idea of a three-man defence earlier in the season. However, after losing matches against Wigan, Blackburn and Hull in October and November it was quickly ditched.
Since then they’d predominantly played with a four-man defence but that embarrassing defeat against Bristol City meant something had to change. Not many would have seen the return of a 3-5-2 formation, though.
The Baggies don’t really have the personnel to play in this way, but despite that, it worked to devastating effect against Preston.
The change was originally inspired by a need for more defensive stability. It had that desired effect but if anything, it benefitted the attack more. It’s something that shouldn’t come as a great shock though.
When Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle have played as a pair this term, they’ve both had a greater influence than when one’s been forced to play out wide.
There are still faults defensively in this Baggies team but when you boast the attack they do, it seems foolish to ignore a tactic that would get the best out of two players who have scored 21 goals apiece.