Now I know full well I am likely to get some serious stick for this but before people start firing pelters at me hear me out first.
I genuinely believe that, with the way things have played out so far in this Premier League season, European football is no longer just a pipe dream for a team like us and if we were to add a few decent additions in the January transfer window, we could not only push on into the top-10 and remain there, but maybe, and it’s a big maybe, have a chance of sneaking a European spot also.
Now six or seven games ago I would have died laughing if someone had said this to me yet after the way we have played in the last four matches, I am filled with genuine optimism that we can go on and have a successful second half to the season.
Draws away to West Ham and Liverpool and four points from North London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal see the club currently sitting 13th in the table with 20 points from 16 games. Tottenham currently sit in that last European spot, with six points more than us.
If you take a look at our fixtures we now have a very nice run of matches, with us only coming up against one of the ‘big boys’ (Chelsea away) once in our next 12 matches. It’s not until March where we then encounter both Arsenal and Manchester United. If we can keep our decent run going and add a healthy tally of points to what we have already achieved then we could be sitting very nicely in the table heading into the remaining quarter of the season.
It is vital however that we make further additions in the January transfer window. We lack creativity in the middle of the park and I’m still not entirely convinced by our big Venezuelan Salomon Rondon up top. It seems Saido Berahino has gone AWOL again and it’s looking increasingly likely he will be moved on in the January window, so we really could do with bringing in a proven striker and someone who can play in behind to lay on the chances.
I can think straight away of two players who would be perfect. Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips were the two the Albion fans really wanted to see rock up at the Hawthorns before the summer window closed. From all accounts we tried, however we didn’t offer QPR what they wanted and the deal went dead with both remaining at Loftus Road. Since then QPR have struggled and sit mid table 13 points adrift from Middlesbrough in second place. If ever there was a time to get those deals done now would be it and I honestly believe it would give us the just the lift needed to push on into that top-10 and remain there.
There are obviously a lot of other factors that play into this. Our chairman Jeremy Peace notoriously dislikes spending money in January and has already hinted a limited budget will be available for our Welsh head coach in January. It may come down to whether a club comes in for Berahino thus providing Pulis with some extra funds but we all saw how that played out in early September and I have no doubt Peace will continue to play hardball even though Berahino hasn’t featured much in the last few months.
Also there are teams of similar standing and size to ourselves playing out of their skin at the minute. Leicester, Crystal Palace, Watford and Stoke are all playing tremendously well and with European stalwarts Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton also in the mix it is undoubtedly a massive ask. But we have shown recently that we can mix it with the league’s best. No-one likes coming up against a Pulis side and we are improving each week in terms of our play.
I’m not saying there is a strong chance of us qualifying for Europe, it’s anything but, however it might be some time before an opportunity like this presents itself again and just feel it would be a damn shame if the club didn’t do everything in their power to at least give Pulis a slim chance of achieving it. Are we a million miles apart from the likes of Crystal Palace and Stoke? I don’t think so, yet they are being talked up as genuine European football contenders.