West Bromwich Albion’s football so far this season may not be pretty on the whole, but it’s certainly been effective for the most part.
The Baggies sit in second position after 12 games with their unbeaten run in the league coming to an end before the most recent international break, however they got back to winning ways on Friday night with a 1-0 success over local rivals Birmingham City.
Albion had a lot of the ball with the Blues happy to let them have it, and they didn’t do much with it until Karlan Grant’s effort 15 minutes from time found its way past Matija Sarkic and into the back of the net.
A lot has been made of the style of play that Valerien Ismael has brought to The Hawthorns – it was successful with Barnsley last season as they overachieved to finish in the play-offs and he clearly got the best out of the Tykes as they’re now struggling just a few months after his departure.
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One person who is not a fan of Albion this season is talkSPORT presenter Adrian Durham, who let rip at Ismael for his style of football and likened him to former Baggies boss Tony Pulis.
“West Bromwich Albion are in one of the top two spots but this Valerien Ismael fella, he’s Tony Pulis with towels. It’s just garbage, isn’t it?” Durham said on his talkSPORT Drive show on October 18, via West Brom News.
“West Brom have recent history in the Premier League. If he gets to the Premier League playing like this then they’ll be laughed out of it in no time at all. They’ll be even worse than Norwich!
“I believe that the fanbase at West Brom is split because there was so much noise at the time about wanting Pulis out and wanting a better style of football, that a lot of them realise that, actually, this guy is Tony Pulis with towels.
“He’s also got a lot of people backing him, but he’s pulling the wool over a lot of people’s eyes.
“There is no football plan whatsoever with Valerien Ismael, he might be a lovely guy and he might take them up, but this is not the new second coming, this is not the Championship version of Pep.”
Albion fans will probably be the first to admit that the football isn’t great, but if games of football are being won then does it really matter in the short-term?
Not every team can play pretty passing football and get results and with the players that Albion have at their disposal it could be argued that playing it on the deck will see them fare better, but with just one loss so far it looks set to continue the direct way.
It’s harsh to compare Pulis and Ismael though as the former was known for parking the bus with a lot of his teams – he did go direct as well but you cannot accuse the Frenchman of having his teams set up defensively.
He has his forwards pressing high and whilst his defenders may go long quite a lot, the Baggies haven’t been short on goals in some matches so to compare Ismael to Pulis is perhaps going slightly overboard.