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West Brom boss Steve Bruce planning to play back four next season

Albion manager Steve Bruce has revealed he plans to revert back to a four man defence next season following his team’s win over Reading.

Steve Bruce thanks and applauds the travelling West Bromwich Albion Fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match between Reading and West Bromwich Albion at Select Car Leasing Stadium on April 30, 2022 in Reading, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Steve Bruce thanks and applauds the travelling West Bromwich Albion Fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match between Reading and West Bromwich Albion at Select Car Leasing Stadium on April 30, 2022 in Reading, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The Baggies played every minute of every game in a 3-4-3 formation under former boss Valerien Ismael.

And with the squad built for three at the back, they have played the vast majority of games in a 3-5-2 system under Bruce.

The 61-year-old changed to a 4-4-2 formation, though, for the final away game of the season at Reading.

Albion won that game thanks to a solitary goal from Karlan Grant.

And Bruce revealed he set up that way with an eye on next season.

“I thought we were comfortable in the game,” the former Newcastle, Villa and Birmingham chief said.

I think the first-half in particular was a bit like a testimonial. There was nothing really on it, it was a nice sunny day.

“The second half we were comfortable and maybe should have put the game to be sooner. We had two, three, four, chances after going 1-0 up.

“There were a lot of things I was pleased with. There is still, of course, a lot of work to do.

“But that’s the way I’d like to go moving forward. We played that way in mind of next season when we start afresh.

“Whether that’s 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 as we call it now. It’s something I am looking at.

“If you’re going to get out of the division then you have got to win something like 22/23/24 games.

“And the structure of the club when I came in was obviously set up for a different manager. We have seven centre-backs and not enough in midfield and in the wide areas.

“But it was good to see Diangana (against Reading) and, of course, that’s the first time I’ve seen Matty Phillips start. Food for thought.”

Albion gave a league debut to youngster Zac Ashworth in Berkshire – with the left-back replacing Conor Townsend at half-time.

And Bruce was delighted with how the academy graduate performed.

“That was the big plus for me – to see Zac play,” the boss continued.

“Conor twisted his ankle and his partner is about to give birth so it was good he was on standby.

“How well did Zac take his chance? He was excellent. He did really, really, well. He’ll have proud mum and dad tonight.”

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