While it would be unfair to say that West Bromwich Albion’s season has not got off to a decent start, with Valerien Ismael’s picking up four points from a possible six, there are still clear areas of the pitch which the Frenchman could do with working on.
A 2-2 draw against a Bournemouth side that will undoubtedly be there or thereabouts in the promotion race come May and a 3-2 victory against Nathan Jones’ impressive Luton Town outfit are fine results indeed, although Ismael’s life would be much more stress-free if his Albion side were able to reduce the number of goals they are currently shipping.
However, looking at the statistics from West Brom’s last two Championship fixtures, the problem does not appear to overly lie with the Baggies defenders, but more in central midfield and at left wing-back.
Indeed, Jake Livermore is currently averaging a rather disappointing SofaScore match rating of 6.60 in the league, while Conor Townsend had something of a game to forget despite the victory over Luton.
As such, there would appear to be an obvious solution to this problem ahead of the heavyweight clash against Sheffield United on Wednesday evening – Adam Reach.
With the former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder having been something of a surprise addition for West Brom this summer, upon closer inspection, it would actually seem as if Reach is exactly the sort of player Ismael loves to have in his squad.
Shortly after his arrival at The Hawthorns, the French manager claimed that he doesn’t need to sign “the most expensive player or the best player” in the transfer market, but rather the “right player for the position,” something that would go a long way to explaining the 28-year-old’s signing.
Reach’s versatility – being able to operate comfortably in any position along the left-hand side of the pitch, as well as in central midfield – is most likely viewed as a huge plus for Ismael, while the £23k-per-week man’s ability in both attack and defence could prove to be game-changing against the Blades on Wednesday.
Indeed, over his 44 Championship appearances for Wednesday last term, the £2.52m-rated Reach scored five goals, registered three assists and created five big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.3 shots and making 0.8 key passes per game.
As such, in a bid to shore Albion up against a side who, despite a slow start to the season, will more than likely be one of West Brom’s main promotion rivals this season, it would appear wise to unleash Reach at left wing-back, as the 28-year-old appears to be far more suited to the role than Townsend.