West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael has stressed the need to rotate his frontline to adapt to the Baggies’ opposition throughout the campaign, speaking about this talking point to the Express and Star.
Jordan Hugill, Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant, Grady Diangana and Matt Phillips have all established themselves as starting options in Ismael’s front three this term, with Robert Snodgrass set to return from his injury after the international break to be a sixth option.
With the loan signing of Hugill during the early stages of the season and other factors coming into play, the Frenchman has not been afraid to switch his plays around throughout the campaign so far with the quality and depth he has at his disposal.
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The likes of Robinson and Grant have thrived this season, although an underwhelming 2002/21 campaign for Diangana and Hugill’s lack of goals means there’s still work for the Baggies’ boss to do at The Hawthorns in their quest to return to the Premier League.
And after seeing the likes of Kyle Edwards, Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin leave the club on the expiration of their contracts in the summer, with Kenneth Zohore potentially on his way out too after a poor start to the campaign, they could see one or two more signings come in during January to add to the main six.
For a West Brom side looking to get back to the Premier League, ‘the more the merrier’ is probably the mantra being used from Ismael and his coaching staff to the second-tier side’s board going into the winter transfer window.
Speaking on the importance of rotation and the variety of different players he has at his fingertips, Ismael said: “I’m happy to keep mixing it up.
“I know it’s not a habit to mix it up – you have the starting XI and the ‘main players’.
“But that’s not our way. We need to adapt all the time to what the opponent wants to do against us and what we want to do against the opponents.
“I have players to press and they have a high intensity. I have players with bigger bodies, stronger and with more physicality so we need to adapt and stay in our way.”
Keeping things fresh throughout the season is important and if Ismael strongly believes that rotation will be the key to promotion at the end of the campaign, then who are we to question that considering his previous track record?
As Ismael alluded to though, it’s often strange to alter a winning side and doesn’t exactly reward players when they have managed to secure their team a good result.
What it does do, however, is make players feel important when they are on the pitch, fully in the knowledge that the 45-year-old has picked them because he thinks they will give the Baggies the best chance of winning.
Rotating is also one way to key all five or six of his options happy too, although they could potentially benefit from a prolific goalscorer if they want to maximise their chances of winning automatic promotion.
This could start to cause unhappiness in the West Brom camp, so it’s a decision that needs to be managed carefully and without even thinking about the six first-team options, Kenneth Zohore is one player they will probably be wanting to get out the door.