A lot is going wrong at West Brom.
Though the most significant issue has certainly been their defensive frailties – the Baggies hold the worst defensive record across Europe’s elite divisions and have leaked a whopping 15 more goals than any other Premier League side this season (54 in total).
Perhaps this comes as a surprise as Sam Allardyce is well-stocked in the defensive department with no fewer than five central options alone, one of which is veteran Branislav Ivanovic.
It does beg the question, exactly why have Albion been so poor defensively when they have a three-time Premier League winner in their ranks? At 36, is it a case of him being past it?
He should still be able to pass valuable snippets onto the likes of Kyle Bartley, Semi Ajayi and Dara O’Shea, who are all seemingly above him in the pecking order under Big Sam.
“He is a competitive animal with a big heart,” once claimed Jose Mourinho as he dubbed the Serbian defender one of his best-ever signings at Stamford Bridge.
Yet, he’s been anything but.
As per average WhoScored ratings, Ivanovic is among the lowest-ranked players at 6.22 – only three players with eight or more starts this term are below him.
And that answers the aforementioned question – maybe he really is done at this sort of level.
The 6 foot 1 stalwart has evidently struggled with the high intensity of the English top-flight as he ranks among the worst culprits for successful pressures on the opposition, managing 22% per 90 as per FBRef.
By comparison, Bartley (31.3%) and Ajayi (39.9%) are much quicker to break out from the back to thwart the opposition, whilst a better barometer could be Thiago Silva at Chelsea – another veteran with an illustrious career – he’s managing a 40.5% success rate.
It is thought that the 36-year-old is the highest earner at the Hawthorns, raking in a cool £66.5k-per-week, which is more than club captain Jake Livermore (£35k-per-week) and big-money summer signing Grady Diangana (£37.5k-per-week).
That’s just not a great deal on the face of it, so sporting and technical director Luke Dowling has a lot to answer for. Ivanovic has already cost the club £1.5m in wages alone, and that figure will rise to £3.5m come to the end of the current campaign.
Overall, the decision to sign Ivanovic in the summer is looking worse and worse by the week. He’s not started in six outings and is clearly way off the pace.
File this one in the Dowling disaster folder.
AND in other news, West Brom could have another Kevin Phillips right under their nose…