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Valerien Ismael makes West Brom claim after mixed start

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West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael believes his side have ‘improved massively in all areas’ since his arrival, speaking to the Express and Star amid a mixed run of form.

The Frenchman arrived from Barnsley in late June having guided the Baggies’ Championship rivals to a fifth-place finish, in what was seen as a remarkable achievement as he transformed the Tykes from relegation battlers to real promotion contenders.

Falling agonisingly short of promotion as they fell to a 2-1 defeat on aggregate to Swansea City in the play-off semi-finals, the 46-year-old decided to depart for The Hawthorns and enjoyed a reasonably successful start to life in the West Midlands.

Quiz: Have West Brom signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?

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Barnsley

Going unbeaten in their opening ten league matches of the 2021/22 campaign following their relegation from the Premier League, Albion seemed to be heading in the right direction under Ismael, but their failure to turn one point into three has become problematic.

Being held to another draw on Friday evening against former side Barnsley, this proved to be costly as they slipped down to fourth place as Blackburn Rovers capitalised with an impressive 4-0 victory over Birmingham City at the weekend.

Whilst Conor Townsend and the manager have put these ties down to their inability to be clinical enough in front of goal, Sky Sports pundit Jobi McAnuff recently cited their chance creation and the Frenchman’s style of play as something that needs to change if they want to improve their fortunes.

Nonetheless, the 46-year-old is happy with how things are going at Albion so far as he said: “There was a lot I needed to change.

“The philosophy, the mentality, the way to train, the pathway to create with the academy.

“I had to learn about the people around the club, how the club works the club environment and the players needed to learn my way to play and the effort needed.

“It’s still a process but after six months we have progressed a lot. We know more about ourselves and the players believe more and more in our way.”

The Verdict:

Ismael seems to be doing a lot behind the scenes and that probably goes under the radar when performances aren’t going so well, but this seems like a long-term project under Ismael and despite understandable criticisms of the club’s board in recent months, you have to commend them for thinking of the long term.

The Frenchman does look as though he’s stamping his authority throughout the whole club and for those that aren’t fond of his current style of play, that’s bad news.

However, the fact they are fourth in the league does give them the opportunity to regain their footing and push for automatic promotion, something that’s a real possibility after seeing previous top-two favourites Fulham and AFC Bournemouth slip up in recent weeks.

However, they need to be better in the final third to start picking up wins consistently and they already have the ability to do this with the likes of Callum Robinson, Grady Diangana, Matt Phillips, Jordan Hugill and Karlan Grant all performing well at this level.

But it’s only the latter that has been able to step up regularly with goals at the moment, so it remains to be seen how much difference another forward could make. Considering the chances they are currently wasting though, they are likely to have a big impact.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Valerien Ismael makes West Brom claim after mixed start

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