In January 2015, when Tony Pulis signed Callum McManaman from Wigan as his first signing as head coach of the Albion, it was a real relief to see such an exciting addition.
Alan Irvine didn’t have many wingers at his disposal and often played Graham Dorrans and Chris Brunt on the flanks, highlighting a lack of pace in the side. Before his redundancy, Irvine played Silvestre Varela and attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon which was exciting and added a bit of flair to the team on a few occasions/. However, by the time Pulis was appointed Varela was completely surplus to requirements in his eyes and his loan was terminated.
In comes Callum McManaman who has shown what he can do in the 2013 FA Cup final with a man of the match performance and at £4.75m could be an absolute bargain.
From January onwards, McManaman made few appearances due to rusty fitness but still showed a lot of promise with his skills and trickery. The main consensus from Pulis was that he would have a good pre-season to sharpen up.
At the beginning of last season, McManaman kicked his season off with an excellent display at home to Chelsea which displayed how good he can play and what Albion fans could look forward to. It was arguably one of the best individual performances from a West Brom player last season.
YouTube: Callum McManaman vs Chelsea (Home)
McManaman was seemingly punished for a dive against Southampton some weeks later and after didn’t start a game for the rest of the season, only making the seldom substitute appearances.
What’s disappointing is that whenever he came on, something happened down that left flank and he would take a man on with decent trickery. Two out of the five penalties Albion got last season were won by McManaman which speaks volumes considering his lack of game time.
If we’re all being honest, he will not fill the Pulis criteria of tracking back and helping out the full back but that’s surely the risk you have to take when he can make such an impact when you’re attacking. That showed in pre-season when he turned out to be the match-winner with a slick finish against Vitesse.
It’s not as severe as Sebastian Pocognoli and Cristian Gamboa but McManaman’s exile from the West Brom squad is almost as bad having not made the bench at Selhurst Park at the weekend.
With James McClean, Matt Phillips, Jonathan Leko now available to the manager and Craig Gardner often played on either wing, McManaman now seems well and truly unneeded.