A roller-coaster of emotions – sometimes surreal, other times painful, but West Bromwich Albion’s 16/17 season has come to an end.There will always be something to be said about Tony Pulis but here’s an assessment of the individuals who performed out there on the pitch.
There will always be something to be said about Tony Pulis but here’s an assessment of the individuals who performed out on the pitch.
1. Ben Foster
A practically flawless season for Foster, who has undoubtedly enjoyed his best season in a Baggies shirt. There’s the old cliché of keepers earning their teams 10-15 points a season but that’s just what the shot-stopper did this year.
The fan favourite pulled off some crucial saves and was always a safe pair of hands throughout the season. One would not be wrong in saying no keeper performed better for their team than Ben Foster for Albion this season.
Best game: Tottenham (H) 1-1
2. Allan Nyom
When Albion desperately needed players and reinforcements on last Summer’s Deadline Day, I don’t think any Albion fan jumped at the sight of Allan Nyom being signed up. However, when Tony Pulis decided Brendan Galloway wasn’t his cup of tea, Nyom capitalised and became a reliable left back for the season.
His form dipped late into the season (similar to a lot of the team) but the Cameroon international has been decent overall and definitely can be happy with the year he’s had.
Best game: Swansea (H) 3-1
4. Hal Robson-Kanu
Another player who left fans underwhelmed when signed and Pulis even admitted was far from his first choice in the signings pecking order.
What Robson-Kanu lacks in ability and consistency, he makes up for in hard work and rare heroic moments. Was limited to substitute appearances to run down the clock for a lot of the year but goals against Southampton and Arsenal won’t be forgotten when looking back at this season.
Best game: Southampton (A) 2-1
5. Claudio Yacob
Very unfortunate to be replaced this year by Jake Livermore but Claudio still had a decent season; starting for some and coming on to see out games in the second half. Yacob will always be needed for what he does – he shines in his role despite others being better on the ball and contributing goals/assists.
With links to William Carvalho still around, Yacob’s Albion future may be in doubt but he’ll always be useful and is yet to have a bad season at the club.
Best game: Burnley (H) 4-0
6. Jonny Evans
A season from Evans that makes you grateful that Arsenal didn’t end up snatching him in the summer. The Northern Irishman strikes up a great partnership with Gareth McAuley and is solid, cool, reliable and most importantly consistent. The only complaint is the odd injury as it’s tough to go even one game without him.
Best game: Manchester Utd (A) 0-0
7. James Morrison
When Albion’s hot streak of form hit, Morrison really enjoyed it and benefited massively from the fresh attacking style of play. However, his form suffered as well as the teams just as much.
After missing a large part of last season, this was a decent one for Morrison after signing his new deal over the summer and deciding to stay.
Best game: Hull (H) 3-1
8. Jake Livermore
Missing out on Morgan Schneiderlin was a blow but Livermore has made a good impact to the midfield and contributes more going forward than Claudio Yacob.
His England call-up in March can only motivate him to get better in the future and Albion will benefit strongly if this is to be the case.
Best game: Stoke (H) 1-0
9. Salomón Rondon
Rondon’s lack of goals has turned him into a polarising striker among Baggies fans but some may not think that Rondon rarely has a particularly bad game. Goals may not be scored and chances may be missed but Rondon’s ability to play the lone striker role is second to none considering how alone he can be left sometimes.
It is extremely disappointing that he couldn’t at least equal last season’s tally but he deserves a third season to pick up consistency in his game as we know what he is capable of. All his goals this season were extremely well executed, including his hat-trick of headers vs Swansea in October.
Best game: Swansea (H) 3-1
10. Matt Phillips
Phillips start to the season was okay, he had his early doubters and was eventually dropped for a defeat to Manchester City. Due to a suspension to James McClean he came back in for the Leicester game at the King Power and the rest is history…
When Phillips form picked up, so did Albion’s. The former QPR man became a joy to watch and £5m became an absolute bargain. Five goals and eight assists is a superb return and it’s now clear to see why Pulis chased him for so long before sealing the deal.
No coincidence either that since Phillips became plagued with niggles and injuries, Albion really dropped off. He’s played very little since February and he’ll be gladly welcomed back when fit again.
Best game: Leicester (A) 2-1
11. Chris Brunt
Brunt’s ability to bounce back was extremely admirable after recovering from a bad knee injury this season. The minute he came on for his return vs Spurs in October his left foot was causing havoc and eventually a goal was scored from a corner he took.
He may not have racked up as many assists as he usually does but his overall contribution can not be overlooked, once again filling in various positions across the field. His strike vs Sunderland was stunning too.
Best game: Sunderland (H) 2-0
12. Marc Wilson
The January window expected a new striker or two after selling Saido Berahino, instead, it brought Marc Wilson on deadline day and Twitter was not pretty amongst Albion supporters.
Wilson has barely featured but when called upon has shown he is not a bad utility player. There is talk of signing him permanently, which is not bad if other key players are signed too.
Best game: Burnley (A) 2-2
13. Boaz Myhill
Myhill usually gets a run in the team due to a Foster injury but nothing of the sort happened this year and the bearded keeper was limited to a couple of cup appearances, where, unfortunately, he did not impress.
Best game: N/A
14. James McClean
Didn’t start as many games as he would have liked due to the form of others but McClean has gone up a gear since his first season and will always give his all and wear his heart on his sleeve for his team.
His ability to beat a man and his final ball have improved and he always made a guaranteed impact from the bench when needed.
Best game: Arsenal (H) 3-1
22. Nacer Chadli
A magical start to his Albion career but faded throughout the season. We’ve seen him at his best but consistency is very much needed from a player with his talent.
Will also need to be deployed behind the striker, which may involve sacrificing James Morrison a lot next season but the Belgian is far more effective playmaking than he is on the wing.
Best game: West Ham (H) 4-2
23. Gareth McAuley
Incredibly, McAuley has had another brilliant season and has been a prominent reason for the team’s success. Like previous years, he’s been a terrific goal-scorer for the team and yet another one-year extension was a no-brainer.
Errors against top sides Chelsea and Arsenal may indicate old age but won’t tarnish another fine season for the veteran.
Best game: Bournemouth (H) 2-1
24. Darren Fletcher
Fletcher’s a great leader and that shows on the pitch. Like Evans, his calm and collected nature on the ball is very important to the team.
One of the best captains in the league in terms of his character but has his critics due to a lack of quality contribution on the field. However, when he was dropped, he was missed in the loss to Leicester.
Chipped in well with goals vs Sunderland and Burnley. New contract and a rest in the summer will benefit the skipper.
Best game: Burnley (H) 4-0
25. Craig Dawson
Decent season once again for the former glass collector. Kept a lot of left wingers quiet, provided important goals and when called upon at centre-half performed well too.
Wants to play centrally next season so will be interesting to see if he gets his wish.
Best game: Arsenal (H) 3-1
45. Jonathan Leko
After starting the last few games in 2016, he was expected to play a key role in the team and build on his first team breakthrough. Instead, Pulis only brought him on when truly desperate and when games were already lost.
Deserved more game time, might expect a loan move next year.
Best game: Manchester City (H) 0-4
47. Sam Field
As far as “the kids” go, Field was definitely the most trusted and impressed each time he featured. If given more game time next season, he’ll slowly but surely become the real deal. Could become a great long-term replacement for Fletcher if handled in the right way.
Best game: Middlesbrough (H) 0-0