West Brom are becoming one of those mid-table stalwarts. It’s the logical next step after years as a yo-yo club. You make your way to the Premier League and sit there, happily observing the madness pass you by, cosily curling up for another late night Match of the Day slot.
Tony Pulis has made West Brom a team that look invulnerable to relegation. Everything looks happy enough at the Hawthorns – aside from the Berahino situation – but there isn’t a sense of progress, a belief that they can become anything more than a team to ultimately make up the numbers just outside of the top ten.
The Baggies aren’t pulling up any trees, nor are they falling away from relevance in Premier League terms. They are simoly existing, it seems. This summer – with all that TV money – was a chance to do something more than that and become a club with greater hope.
They tried, but it could’ve been more than that if they signed these three…
Matt Philipps and Nacer Chadli were big signings for West Brom. The two wide forwards will offer additional goal threat and a spark in the final third that Pulis’ sides are often accused of lacking.
However, another leap in that direction could’ve been taken with the addition of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Out of favour at Arsenal and in need of career revitalisation, the ex-Saint has the upper-body strength and direct approach to fit well in Pulis’ side.
Whether used out wide or in a central role, it would have been a real statement of intent.
Defence isn’t exactly an area West Brom need to reinforce at the moment. They looked solid throughout last season, even if that did compromise their ability in possession. Pulis showed disregard for any natural full-backs and was not pressured into shoehorning James Chester into the team.
Jones, then, might have been an odd addition. A player who rarely seems to be at full fitness and lacks the sort of discipline Pulis demands, it would have been a risk, a significant one.
However, Jones’ experience in both midfield and right-back would give Pulis options. And, whatever the perception may be, Jones can still improve. Manchester United are building without him and a move is exactly what he needs. Pulis would certainly appreciate his hard-tackling.
The ex-Chelsea Brazilian star would demand princely wages admittedly, but what an addition he would be in Pulis’ side. A hard-working midfielder with the ability to produce moments of magic, the energy he would add to the centre of the park could only be a huge bonus.
Along with this, his ability to play down the right would give Pulis some much-loved extra flexibility and Ramires could become a useful option at right-back. Failing that, a position on the right wing for trickier fixtures would provide additional stability.
The cost itself might have been too high for the Baggies, but what an addition a player of that class and experience would have been.