Chris Brunt- West Brom captain deservedly so, or not? Brunt is well known in the football industry, most famously for his sensational left foot. He came to the Albion in August 2007 from Sheffield Wednesday, ahead of the upcoming Championship season and was soon well settled in and popular with the fans. Many Albion fans have watched Brunt develop and got to know him as a player over his years at the Hawthorns, but with him now nearing the age of 30, is he past his best?
In games earlier on in the season, the captain has been very inconsistent and at home he was very poor in matches against Norwich and Aston Villa and as a result heavily criticised by Baggies fans, frustrated by the fact that he is constantly slowing the game down, therefore when West Brom have players like Saido Berahino and Matej Vydra on, they cannot afford to slow down and make time for the opposition. After a few more average/poor home performances, the captain has clearly regained form, especially since the arrival of Pepe Mel. However, in away matches Brunt has upped his game and come home with some brilliant performances. At St James’ Park earlier on in the season, Brunt was very unpredictable, going from some of his passing being extremely inaccurate and shots wild, to scoring a superb equaliser in front of the high up away fans. In the 3-3 draw at West Ham in December, Brunt put out a fine show, being the centre of everything and playing as a captain should, leading his players and creating two goals, only for the minimal away support. The most notable performance of Brunt recently was in the away derby against Aston Villa. With the fans having just about had enough of Brunt and his careless errors, in the fourth minute he put his team ahead with an outstanding long range effort, but again on an away day. It is a possibility that he feels under pressure at home games because of the criticism he gets, but he looks a different player at away games.
He has been in situations where he is the centre of the break on the counter-attack, with options to his left and right but going for glory, shooting and blasting it high. He may be constantly doing this because of the fans unknowingly being intimidating, afraid of their frustration and wanting to be a hero, back in the good books.
In some home games this season Brunt has started, and in all honesty, his overall play has not been Premier League standard at all. Most recently his passing and corners have not been reaching the right places, his free kicks have been wasteful and his shots do not compare to other midfielders in the league. However, a bright spark has been seen in him in recent away games, so many Baggies fans hope to see that creativity every match.
By Anjali Patel