On transfer deadline day in January West Brom secured three loan deals for players who should have promised so much more.
Stefan Johansen arrived from Fulham, whilst wingers Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero came in to bolster the wide areas from Norwich and Swansea respectively.
However, the two latter names have largely been flops. Johansen has offered a solid option in the middle of the park but the two wingers have been non-existent.
With Dwight Gayle and Hal Robson-Kanu suspended for the club’s play-off semi-final second leg, the club’s lack of depth appears to be coming back to bite them. As such, Darren Moore’s poor recruitment is proving costly.
When Harvey Barnes rejoined Leicester at the turn of the year his loss was felt significantly through the Hawthorns.
Given the poor form of Albion’s wide players now, not replacing him was a fatal error. The Baggies have relied on the goals of Jay Rodriguez and Gayle since, but with only one of them available there is now an alarming lack of attacking quality.
Murphy has scored only two goals in 13 matches whilst Montero has managed just four appearances. They’ve both been dismal signings and that’s all too evident now we’re at the business stage of the campaign.
When the pair signed, Moore told the Baggies’ website: “They will add more competition to the team and add to our depth and numbers at a crucial time.”
However, that couldn’t be less true for Murphy and Montero. At a crucial point in the season, West Brom need game changers but they barely have anyone capable of providing competition and influencing a game from the bench.
If you look at Aston Villa there is a huge contrast. The fact one of their substitutes in Conor Hourihane scored the winning goal last weekend is a fine example.
January is always a tough time to recruit but not adding more depth and finding a Barnes replacement has been massive. The young winger covered up flaws at the club earlier in the season and now it’s being felt.
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West Brom’s momentum going into the play-offs had taken a hit and under Jimmy Shan, it was going to be a tough ask to see them through to the Premier League anyway.
But with Gayle now suspended there are questions over the quality in the side. The Baggies aren’t down and out yet, but it’s hard to see them pulling it back, even if they are at home in the second leg.