As the pundits continue to assure us that “West Brom would be mad to sack Pulis”, the stats continue to make stark reading for the much-lauded Welshman, never mind the fact that those pundits don’t have to watch the turgid football week in week out.
Only three times have Albion had as few as ten points from their opening 11 games of a Premier League season, their first three seasons at this level. Obviously, only the Great Escape season saw Albion survive, and even Tony Mowbray’s side that finished bottom in 2008/09 had more points from 11 games. Only Megson’s 2002/03 side had scored fewer goals.
Furthermore, as Alex Newton pointed out on Twitter, Pulis’s recent record is inferior to that of the man he replaced. If you just consider their Premier League records, it is even worse. Pulis’s team have picked just two wins and eleven points from their last 19 games – Alan Irvine’s 19 Premier League games in charge of the Baggies resulted in four wins and 17 points. The Scotsman’s team had 13 points at this stage of the season, and Pulis will need to find two wins and a draw from the next eight games just to be on a par with Irvine for the season, a man that was sacked.
As I predicted in my preview article on Friday, the away fans were very angry at the John Smith’s Stadium, even though the game was technically in the balance. Even after the triple substitution, the team didn’t look like scoring and you couldn’t really tell that the hosts were down to ten men. Yes, their ‘keeper made a couple of good saves but they were both in stoppage time as the Terriers dropped deeper and deeper. The Albion players looked devoid of ideas on how to break down a side set up to defend, which is why we need to attack these sides when they are trying to score, not when they have something to protect!
The team looked low on confidence, low on motivation (McClean aside) and something needs to change quickly. The way they played after Huddersfield went down to ten was the most worrying aspect for me – they bossed the possession but spent most of the time passing the ball left and right on the halfway line, with a distinct lack of movement up front and no one willing to take a risk. It also seemed strange to me that of the three central midfielders, it was Krychowiak that was taken off. He’s a winner – surely, his influence would’ve been beneficial, although, to be fair, he still hasn’t won a game in an Albion shirt!
With Chelsea and Spurs to come next, you have to fear what a heavy defeat might do. I’d be very surprised if the board were to get rid of Pulis at this stage, no matter what the stats might say. I’m still looking at the home games against Newcastle and Palace as the ones that Pulis will have to save is job.
|Comparison of Equivalent Fixtures^|
|2016/2017 Results||Sunderland (A)||D||1-1|
|2005/2006||30/10/2005||Newcastle United (H)||L||0-3|
|2008/2009||01/11/2008||Blackburn Rovers (H)||D||2-2||Bednar, Miller|
|2010/2011||07/11/2010||Manchester City (H)||L||0-2|
|2012/2013||10/11/2012||Wigan Athletic (A)||W||2-1||Morrison, Caldwell (o.g.)|
|2013/2014||09/11/2013||Chelsea (A)||D||2-2||Long, Sessègnon|
|2014/2015||09/11/2014||Newcastle United (H)||L||0-2|
|2015/2016||31/10/2015||Leicester City (H)||L||2-3||Rondón, Lambert (pen)|
|2016/2017||06/11/2016||Leicester City (A)||W||2-1||Morrison, Phillips|
|2017/2018||04/11/2017||Huddersfield Town (A)||L||0-1|
|2002/2003||02/11/2002||Manchester City (H)||L||1-2||Clement|
|2004/2005||06/11/2004||Southampton (A)||D||2-2||Earnshaw (2)|
|2005/2006||05/11/2005||West Ham United (A)||L||0-1|
|2010/2011||10/11/2010||West Ham United (A)||D||2-2||Odemwingie (pen), Ibanez|
|2011/2012||19/11/2011||Bolton Wanderers (H)||W||2-1||Thomas, Long|
|2012/2013||17/11/2012||Chelsea (H)||W||2-1||Long, Odemwingie|
|2013/2014||25/11/2013||Aston Villa (H)||D||2-2||Long (2)|
|2015/2016||07/11/2015||Manchester United (A)||L||0-2|
|2016/2017||21/11/2016||Burnley (H)||W||4-0||Phillips, Morrison, Fletcher, Rondón|
* Positions are recorded as Albion’s position in the Premier League table after all fixtures for that day have been completed.
^ Fixtures against promoted clubs are compared against fixtures against the relegated clubs from last season with the club finishing 1st in the Championship compared against the club finishing 18th in the Premier League, 2nd compared with 19th and the play-off winners compared against the club who finished bottom.