Comment: West Brom left with much to do after deadline day failings

Penny for Steve Bruce’s thoughts at 11.30pm on Thursday night.

Albion were unable to bring the required deadline day recruit to the club yesterday. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Albion were unable to bring the required deadline day recruit to the club yesterday. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Albion’s deadline day business descended into chaos in the final minutes and seconds of the window as deals the club hoped to have wrapped up slipped away, writes Lewis Cox.

In the end, only Martin Kelly, the experienced defender who has hardly kicked a ball in two years, was the sole arrival at The Hawthorns in the final 24 hours.

Anger in the fanbase was palpable after a desperately disappointing finale. Supporters feel horribly let down by the late business, or lack of. As should the boss.

Albion, currently, have nowhere near, in terms of numbers, depth and competition, what is required to sustain a season-long promotion push.

The club have ended the window with no more than 16 fit, senior players. Some of them – Kenneth Zohore – have been a long way from the first-team picture.

No one is suggesting transfer deals are straight-forward, particularly late in the window. But these deals should not have been left so late.

In doing that brings in a recipe for disaster. A worst-case scenario.

Albion must look introspectively at why this was the case. Who sanctioned the timescales on deals and why it was allowed for the deadline to pass with nothing doing? Recruitment team? Board? Owner?

Bruce, ever the professional, will work on. Albion will be forced to turn to a free-agent market stacked with more uncertainties. Bruce addressed the media at the start of deadline day and exuded confidence with deals going ahead. He anticipated a late one – but that things would get done.

The manager has the best part of the next two months to somehow maintain his team’s pace in the promotion pack, until the World Cup break. Following that the January window appears on the horizon.

Jed Wallace and John Swift were excellent starts to the window. Okay Yokuslu’s return was brilliant. The ending is the exact opposite.

Surely, deep down, Bruce will feel under-equipped with what he has to work with?

Loans for midfield duo Josh Onomah and Steven Alzate, from Fulham and Brighton respectively, were worked on and, certainly in Onomah’s case, all-but complete – but fell away in the final seconds.

The Fulham man completed a medical at the Baggies training ground. But late paperwork issues meant it broke down. Alzate was a later deal and the Colombian never made the West Midlands, but there was still a hope it could be finalised. Fulham were working on bringing Dan James from Leeds, for Brighton Billy Gilmour from Chelsea. Albion’s deals got delayed further. The Baggies, as an EFL club, didn’t have the luxury of a deal sheet, to work beyond the deadline.

Callum Robinson’s permanent exit to Cardiff – a likelihood all summer – has left Albion even lighter than when they entered deadline day in terms of attackers.

But having decided to spend on Salford’s Brandon Thomas-Asante, a highly-rated youngster from League Two, Bruce was content with the 23-year-old as back-up and cover for Karlan Grant. Daryl Dike is another month or so from returning. It was decided that would be the approach, rather than a loan or free agent forward.

Instead, midfield reinforcements – in the shape of Onomah and Alzate –were identified as the priority

The ownership issue, of course, is a separate saga but entirely linked to the late push for loans to cover a wafer-thin squad. Albion did not have the funds to compete in the market with any clout this summer, Bruce made that quite clear.

Guochuan Lai’s loan repayment, still to be made with a December deadline in time for the January window, has thrust the club into an unwanted direction. Way down the pecking order battling for loans from Fulham and Brighton, with respect to those clubs, to have sufficient numbers. A damning indictment.

Albion pushing in the final seconds of a window is nothing new but failure to get the deals done could be extremely costly in terms of being where the club want to be. It may also have cost them any confidence the fans had left in the club. supporter confidence. Many fans have already voiced their understandable ire – of this being the last straw.

The bottom line?

It just isn’t good enough.

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