West Brom have had a very disappointing start to the 2022/23 Championship season but the statistics show that they could and should be doing a lot better.
The Baggies currently sit 21st in the second tier after just one win from their opening ten matches, which came in a 5-2 thrashing of Hull City.
Bruce has problems at both ends of the pitch, as despite being top of the expected goals table with an average of 2.04 expected per match, they have scored 15 times so far this season, five of which came in one game.
Meanwhile, they also top the table for expected goals against with just an average of 1.1 expected goals against per game, which suggests that some of the blame must lie with first-choice goalkeeper David Button, who has shipped 14 times so far this season.
After the departure of Sam Johnstone in the summer, Bruce opted against bringing in a new goalkeeper, with Button starting all ten games this season, averaging a shocking 6.11 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
This ranks him as the worst performer in Bruce’s squad of those to start at least one game, which suggests that Bruce has made a mistake in putting his faith in him as number one. To make matters worse, the stopper also has the worst save percentage of all 26 goalkeepers used in the division this term, with a dreadful return of just 50%.
The decision is perhaps even more baffling when you consider that the Baggies possess one of the top young goalkeepers in the EFL in Josh Griffiths.
Despite being a starter for Cheltenham Town and Lincoln City in the past two seasons, Bruce decided to send Griffiths out on loan again this season rather than giving him a chance, with Portsmouth the beneficiaries.
During his time with the Robins, where he helped them to promotion from League Two, chairman Andy Wilcox was full of praise for Griffiths, saying:
“He really enjoyed it here. I watched him from game one to his last of the season and he’s improved no end.
“He’s just got better and better, so credit to Booky [Steve Book, goalkeeping coach] for giving him confidence. He has a big future, that lad.”
The 21-year-old has made nine appearances in League One, in which he has conceded just eight goals and kept four clean sheets with a save success rate of 70.4%. That certainly suggests, on current form at least, he would be a big upgrade on Button in Bruce’s side.
Therefore, it seems fair to suggest that loaning him out was another mistake by Bruce this summer and fans will surely be hoping to see Griffiths take over as number one at the Hawthorns in the not-too-distant future.