Express & Star

West Brom v Swansea: Steve Bruce may tweak for Norwich repeat

Steve Bruce might be tempted to tweak the way he sets up Albion as they host Swansea tomorrow.


As the heat is cranked back up at The Hawthorns following a fortnight off league action, Bruce faces a crunch period as he looks to find a run of results to ease the mounting pressure on his role as Albion manager.

Albion simply have to find victories to change the picture of the 2022/23 season. Doing so is still possible – 10 games have passed but the table remains bunched, and with that comes a chance.

But time is against the experienced manager with one victory in 10 being viewed as an unacceptable return, the continuation of which will resort in change.

As a desperately poor derby defeat to Blues was followed by improvement in drawing at Norwich, Bruce was granted more time on the other side of the international break to secure the required runs.

That period of fixtures starts now and, for Albion, the hard-luck stories must end.

The performance at Carrow Road 13 days ago was much more like it.

That came as Bruce decided to tweak the way his visitors lined up, away from a 4-2-3-1 that has been Albion’s go-to this season.

It involved addressing the role occupied by John Swift, the attacking midfield summer recruit, and pulling the former Reading man slightly deeper into a three-man midfield with Jayson Molumby and, on that occasion, Jake Livermore.

It worked well and Albion were unlucky not to beat the in-form Canaries.

The change in shape played a big part in Albion putting in their best defensive performance of the season. They have conceded simple chances and goals at an alarming rate this season and that tweak helped, falling back into a 4-5-1 when required to defend.

After the success Bruce might be tempted to do similar against tomorrow’s visitors from south Wales, who come to the Black Country 16th in the Championship after a few improved results prior to the break.

It is important, however, to make clear that an away fixture at Norwich comes with different pressures and expectations to Swansea at home.

At Norwich, Albion surrendered more possession and were happy to be resilient and solid and play on the counter-attack.

At The Hawthorns against Swansea that will not wash. Fans will not be happy to see the visitors with 70 per cent or more of the ball, unless their side are two or three to the good.

Another important factor tomorrow could be the availability and possible debut for recent free transfer Tom Rogic.

The former Celtic favourite, 29, left Parkhead in the summer and was snapped up by Bruce after a move elsewhere broke down. Rogic has been training hard to build up fitness and there is hope his belated introduction could provide a much-welcome spark to finally ignite the season.