Tuesday 16 January 2018

Pulis no closer to solving Berahino riddle

West Brom boss Tony Pulis has been left puzzled by the downturn in form for Saido Berahino (pictured) Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
West Brom boss Tony Pulis has been left puzzled by the downturn in form for Saido Berahino (pictured) Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

James Corrigan

Saido Berahino is set to make his first start for West Brom in more than two months, but the striker's admirers know that it could be his last appearance at the Hawthorns.

The 22-year-old looked lifeless after appearing as a sub at Swansea. Is this really the same man who scored 20 goals last season, forcing his way into the England squad? And on the evidence of this campaign, will Tottenham still rate him at £15m in January?

For his part, Pulis has expressed dismay at Berahino's downturn, saying: "I have been in management a long time but never has someone faded as badly as Saido."

Berahino's attacking threat could hardly be much worse than West Brom's limp display at Swansea, as they chased the game after Boaz Myhill's blunder allowed Ki Sung-yueng to grasp an early lead.

"You put two or three results together and you're in the top 10," Pulis said. "That's how close this league is this year. We've got to keep going and keep believing," he added ahead of today's game with Newcastle, which has suddenly taken on the look of a six-pointer.

"It will ebb and flow and we haven't even reached halfway yet. We played really well at Swansea and we've got to keep going and keep believing."

Newcastle's visit marks the final game of Pulis' first year in charge at The Hawthorns - he was appointed on January 1. It has been a largely progressive 12 months as survival specialist Pulis steered Albion away from relegation danger last season before guiding Albion into the top eight in October.

But three successive draws and back-to-back defeats against Bournemouth and Swansea have left West Brom too close to the relegation zone for comfort.

"If you looked at the three games before we played Bournemouth and Swansea - Tottenham at home and Liverpool and West Ham away -they're all tough games," Pulis said. "We played Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Liverpool - three of them away - and we got six points out of those games. So we were pleased with that. The last two games have been poor but they're such thin lines.

"We had two players sent off against Bournemouth and shot ourselves in the foot, but their penalty was outside the box and should not have been given.

"We should have had two penalties at Swansea and two against Leicester, but we have to get on with it."

After Newcastle, Pulis comes up against his former club Stoke before an FA Cup tie with Championship side Bristol City and then tough-looking away tests in the league at Chelsea and Southampton.

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