West Brom overcame Nathan Jones’ determined Stoke City side in a hard-fought contest at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday. A single Dwight Gayle goal, as the Newcastle United loanee nodded in from close range, was enough to give the Baggies a 1-0 win.
Darren Moore will be delighted with the result, but he will be disappointed with his side’s lack of thrust and dynamism. This is an issue he must address, especially if he is serious about taking West Brom back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Gareth Barry has been a fine servant at the Hawthorns. However, at 37-years-old he should not still be as important to the way the Baggies play as he currently is. The 53-cap former England international has made 19 league appearances for the Midlands club so far this season, as per Transfermarkt’s statistics.
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Whilst the veteran midfielder’s experience, ability to read the game, and quality on the ball can be useful, he can no longer bring energy or intensity to the middle of the park. This issue is compounded when Barry is partnered in midfield by Jake Livermore, as he was against Stoke.
29-year-old Livermore also lacks the ability to break forward effectively with the ball, and as such, the Baggies are lumbered with an uninspiring midfield pairing. Both are tidy on the ball, and calm, experienced presences, but they lack pace and firepower.
In order to address this, Moore must invest more faith into the likes of Sam Field and Rekeem Harper, who could both bring a much-needed injection of energy and youthful exuberance to West Brom’s midfield setup.
Finding long-term replacements for the likes of Barry and Livermore in the upcoming summer transfer window is also vital, especially if the club are able to secure a return to the top flight. Moore’s mind must now be on the future.