Irvine's West Brom echo Hodgson
West Brom's display in the 0-0 draw with Southampton was reminiscent of times under Roy Hodgson but lacked a cutting edge to turn a draw into a win. However, the debuting Brown Ideye looked like he may be capable of providing that spark.
Despite Gareth McAuley only being fit enough to get a spot on the bench, West Brom were solid enough in defence, with Ben Foster's one contribution a smart save from Dusan Tadic. For all of Southampton's possession, they too suffered from a lack of ideas up front as Albion kept them at arm's length.
- Report: Southampton 0-0 West Brom
Craig Dawson received some heavy criticism after his display against Sunderland, but he made up for that against the Saints, making a couple of crucial interceptions and blocks while also dealing admirably with the aerial threat of Graziano Pelle and Shane Long. Unfortunately for Dawson, he was left with more work to do due to the struggles of Andre Wisdom at right back.
The on-loan Liverpool man looks like a decent defender but more of a central defender than the right back role he is playing. Wisdom found himself out of position on more than one occasion and is unconvincing going forward. This is perhaps why the Baggies bought in Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa, who will get forward on every occasion.
What made the performance remarkably similar to that of West Brom sides under Hodgson was the defensive performance of the whole team, not just the back four. Alan Irvine's side had a clearly defined shape, and everybody knew what his role was. Youssouf Mulumbu and Craig Gardner were tasked with breaking up play and taking the ball forward from deeper midfield roles, with Graham Dorrans pushed right up behind the forward. Mulumbu in particular was impressive in that role against a combative Saints midfield.
However, it was only once a change was made up front that Albion looked like breaking down Southampton's defence. It was a moment West Brom fans had been waiting for, the debut of 10 million man Brown Ideye, who came on in place of the ineffective Victor Anichebe.
Albion need more of these kind of players, which is why they are still in the market for two wide men. The first of those looks like it will be Porto's Silvestre Varela on a season-long loan.
The Portugal international seems like the type of player Albion have lacked since the departure of Peter Odemwingie -- skillful, quick and with an eye for goal. Not only that, but he is also capable of playing on both sides, which makes him a useful option.
While Saido Berahino performed his defensive duties admirably, it's clear that he would prefer to play in a more central role. A potential partnership with Ideye is certainly something Irvine should be considering as he looks for his first win as Albion boss against Swansea next weekend.