It’s been less than a year since Darren Moore was promoted to first-team coach under Alan Pardew in December and of course prior to that, the current Head Coach acted as a loan manager for the clubs youngsters to go out and get competitive football.
Now, after his first transfer window in management, it turns out the Albion legend also has a knack for knowing which players to bring into the club on loan deals.
A couple of Moore’s signings haven’t set the world alight – Kyle Bartley and Tyrone Mears are both underwhelming in defence and two unwanted names on the team sheet.
Conor Townsend does seem like reasonably good back-up to Kieran Gibbs at left-back and Sam Johnstone is starting to grow into his new role as Ben Foster’s replacement. Post-window signings Wes Hoolahan and Bakary Sako are also decent options on the bench for a promotion-chasing side.
However, Moore deserves immense credit for the loan signings of Tosin Adarabioyo, Harvey Barnes and Dwight Gayle who have largely contributed to Albion’s form so far this season.
21 year-old centre-back Adarabioyo came from parent club Manchester City to get regular football and experience under his belt but it’s only been in the past few weeks he’s managed to play in a run of league games. Even when in the teams recent rot, Adarabioyo’s performances were one of few positives to take from that period. After capitalising on Kyle Bartley’s injury, Adarabioyo slotted in at right-back at the weekend in a change of system that saw the team beat Leeds 4-1 in arguably Albion’s best performance of the season. Just like every player at the weekend, the England international put in a top performance and regardless of any injuries, it looks like he’ll be staying in the starting XI.
Whatever about James McClean’s technical qualities, his effort and hard work was always appreciated. This was especially a breath of fresh air in Moore’s six Premier League games. If the winger was to be sold to Stoke, it was vital he was replaced by at least someone of equal quality.
Six goals and three assists later, Harvey Barnes’ loan move from Leicester couldn’t have gone much better – and we’re only in November. Regardless of the fact he isn’t Albion’s player, he’s a big factor in why Albion are where they are in the table.
For a 20 year-old, Barnes is unbelievably confident and when he’s on the ball anything could happen. Not only is he scoring goals, he’s scoring quality ones that prove to be important too. His goals against Bolton, Bristol, Leeds and especially Sheffield Wednesday won’t be forgotten anytime soon. It’s fair to say Barnes is what Albion fans hoped £15m man Oliver Burke would be last season.
The only issue with Barnes is the worry Leicester manager Claude Puel might decide to recall him from January due to his exceptional form and if that’s your only problem, have you even got one?
Last, but definitely not least is Moore’s decision to bring Dwight Gayle in on loan from Newcastle. It’s commonly known that Gayle is the Championship version of Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane and for Moore to use Rafa Benitez’ want for Salomón Rondon to manufacture a loan-swap deal for the two strikers was a stroke of genius.
The former Crystal Palace striker has nine goals to his name so far and there would be no surprise if he went on to equal his tally of 23 for Newcastle two years ago.
Highlights have included a stunning brace at home to Stoke, a 20-yard free kick to seal victory against Preston and a back-heel turned away from goal last weekend to bury Leeds. However, it’s Gayle’s partnership with Jay Rodriguez that has also got fans off their seats at The Hawthorns. Gayle has won the team four penalties so far this season, all of which Rodriguez has tucked away.
Rodriguez is also one behind Gayle with eight goals so far and are in a race to become Albion’s top scorer. It’s healthy competition that’s getting the best out of each other.
Ever since Romelu Lukaku’s dream loan move in 2012/2013, Albion have had great opportunities in the loan market but almost all have been underused or let downs. Scott Sinclair, Silvestre Varela, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Daniel Sturridge never brought their effort or quality to The Hawthorns after coming from big clubs.
Meanwhile, Tony Pulis’ decision to give Serge Gnabry and Alex Pritchard little to no game time after signing them himself looks more and more puzzling as time goes on.
This is where Darren Moore deserves credit after choosing the right calibre of players to join the team on loan and getting the best out of them.
After seeing some disastrous loan deals over the years, fans can hope and pray these players sign permanently for the first time since Lukaku’s spell five years ago.