Long Long Gone

Long

The biggest news of last month’s transfer window for West Brom was the departure of Shane Long to Premier League rivals Hull City. Long potentially had eighteen months left on his contract, six months with the option of an extra season. The undisclosed fee, thought to be between six and a half to seven million pounds, is considered as excellent business by Peace for some Albion fans, but for others extremely frustrating.

The opinions of the fans have been extremely variable, from the extreme of some relieved to see the back of the Irish international to others absolutely devastated and worrying about the team’s future in the Premier League. The reasoning of those happy to see Shane Long head for the exit door was that he was paid to score goals, which did not happen regularly, the statistic twenty two goals in eighty seven appearances in all competitions for West Bromwich Albion (nineteen in eighty one in league), therefore a brilliant bit of business by Jeremy Peace, gaining around seven million pounds for a striker who struggled to find the back of the net.  However, many supporters have been distraught at the news, Long, having been one of the main players in the squad and in his time at the Hawthorns, was a brilliant player who scored some vital goals. The striker was the best thing since sliced bread in the Midlands derby against Aston Villa, putting the home side 2-0 up and scoring his best and last goals for the Albion, before the team conceding two and the match ending in a draw.

During his time in the Black Country, Shane Long was known for his pace, quality in the air and terrific work rate. The move to Hull may be a good one for his career, with many journalists having said that Long would not fit in with new manager Pepe Mel’s style of play, and him alongside former Everton frontman Nikica Jelavic could produce a deadly duo. The Republic of Ireland international was given advice on joining Hull, by his international teammates Robbie Brady, Paul McShane, David Meyler and Stephen Quinn, who are currently playing for the Tigers. Many fans will remember his debut goal against Manchester United, in front of the Smethwick End and the away fans. Shane Long has scored many memorable goals for the Baggies, one of the most significant is his strike against Manchester City in the 2012/13 season, not remembered for the nature of the finish but the message he had on a printed shirt underneath, showing ‘We Know What We Are,’ which has since been picked up as a chant for Albion fans.

From the perspective of the player, this switch is a move in the right direction, away from under-performing West Brom and playing every week at Hull, pushing for a top half finish. Long has been scoring regularly and formed a terrific strike-force partnership with ex-Everton man, Nikica Jelavic. However, from the perspective of his former club, he has left behind their inconsistent club who are fighting to keep their Premier League status and made a very effective move to Hull where he is scoring goals an Albion fan could only wish for. A very talented player who is missed by many.

By Anjali Patel

Should West Brom’s Chris Brunt still be playing?

Chris Brunt

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