Tony Pulis may have had club record signing Salomon Rondon watching Monday night’s thumping by Manchester City from the stands, but there’s little about the three goals West Brom’s defence had leaked before an hour had gone that their new £12m Venezuelan striker can be expected to remedy.
Instead, following the attacking additions of Serge Gnabry, James McClean and Rickie Lambert, Pulis is likely to spend the final few weeks of the transfer window looking to bolster his backline, with James Chester from Hull the only defensive purchase so far this summer.
Reports today suggest that Jose Enrique could be one such addition, with the Spanish left back expected to make the switch from Liverpool. Given that Lambert has already made the same move after making just seven starts for his beloved Reds last season, Enrique comes as one of the few Liverpool squad members who managed even less time on the pitch, managing only two starts last time round.
So given that West Brom’s manager has a reputation for making a canny signing, should Baggies fans be confident of a positive season in store with a recruitment drive focusing on players unfancied on Merseyside?
Last season’s similar policy saw Pulis bring in young Liverpool full back Andre Wisdom, whose time at The Hawthorns divided opinion.
Despite making 22 starts, Wisdom struggled to establish himself as a definitive first-teamer, left rooted to the bench on 13 occasions. He was even infamously subbed off in a 3-0 home defeat to Spurs that saw his removal cheered by the unimpressed home fans. Inconsistency is not a trait that Pulis has much time for, and it was no surprise that West Brom opted not to bring Wisdom back this time around.
Yet a scour of more recent Liverpool exiles to other Premier League clubs of similar size, stature and ambition to West Brom offers a little more promise for Pulis and co.
It’s fair to say the chastening experience Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing endured at Anfield did them no harm at West Ham. Downing arguably enjoyed his career best form in East London, while Carroll’s persistent injuries mask a strike rate of a goal every three league starts for the Hammers.
Jonjo Shelvey put his Anfield rejection behind him by becoming a crucial factor in Swansea’s continual improvement in the top flight, while Fabio Borini’s career has looked excellent everywhere but Liverpool, with his form for Sunderland in 13/14 a key reason for their miracle survival. Similarly, Sebastian Coates’ impressive form at the back end of last season was so appreciated by Dick Advocaat that he had no qualms about signing the Uruguayan permanently in the summer.
So although David N’Gog provides an exception in doing little to stop Bolton getting relegated in 2011/12 following a £3m move, the signs are actually that shopping in Liverpool’s bargain basement may prove more worthwhile than those chanting “Scouse reject!” may want to believe.
But Tony Pulis knows this only too well of course, having signed Charlie Adam for Stoke for £4m in 2012, whose hammer left foot has won hearts in the Potteries, even if his temperament prevented him from doing the same on Merseyside.
Baggies fans with a decent memory won’t need too much convincing either – their last signing from Liverpool before Wisdom was Scott Carson, a £2.8m acquisition in 2008/09 who went on to enjoy three seasons as West Brom’s number one, captaining the side to promotion in 2010.
West Brom are 2/1 to beat newly-promoted Watford on Saturday.