Missed bargain: Dowling’s WBA call over “fearless” £2m beast looking worse by the week – opinion

As West Brom’s struggles continue, they will surely live to regret one of their summer decisions…

What was the word?

Back in June, the Express & Star revealed that American left-back Antonee Robinson was one of the Baggies’ top transfer targets and it was claimed that they were willing to pay his £2m release clause.

Two months later, the 23-year-old opted to join Premier League and relegation rivals Fulham in a move that appears to be costing Albion by the week.

One that got away?

West Brom not only have the worst defensive record in the top-flight but also across Europe’s five elite leagues too. Sam Allardyce’s side have leaked a whopping 52 goals from their 22 outings, some 16 more than any other Premier League side.

He’s yet to settle on his first-choice backline, which has been evident in his constant chopping and changing of the full-backs.

Dara O’Shea and Darnell Furlong keep swapping in and out on the right, whilst Big Sam clearly doesn’t trust Gibbs as Conor Townsend has come straight back in on his return from a pretty lengthy layoff.

The story may have been so much different had they landed the bargain signature of Robinson.

Fulham have also struggled, but they haven’t conceded so many goals.

Indeed since December, they have only once conceded more than two goals in one game – by comparison, under Allardyce, the Baggies have leaked five twice, four and three in four of their last five home outings.

The USMNT international has played a key part as he ranks third for overall WhoScored rating (6.97) in Scott Parker’s squad. West Brom’s best full-back has been Townsend (6.81) and then O’Shea (6.42).

Robinson contributes positively at either end of the pitch, which is why he would have been a perfect addition at the Hawthorns as they struggle to score on top of being easily bypassed.

Per WhoScored, the young left-back manages 2.2 tackles per 90 at a success rate of 72.3% as well as 1.7 interceptions per 90, proving to be a hardworking beast off the ball.

Neither Townsend (1.7 tackles, 1.5 interceptions per 90) nor Gibbs (1.7 tackles per 90) can match such returns.

Similarly, Robinson’s 1.4 key passes per 90 is over double what the Baggies duo have achieved thus far in creativity up the pitch.

Indeed, his manager at Fulham, Parker, has already been left impressed by what his new signing has offered this season, saying: “He’s done incredibly well. (He’s) a boy with a big, big heart and a boy with a fearless attitude that embraces and takes things on a daily basis, same as in the games.

“He’s got quality and ability which I think we’re all seeing. (There’s) still loads to improve and loads to learn, but he has a real work ethic about him and a mentality about him that he’s willing to do that.”

The Baggies’ fortunes wouldn’t have been instantly changed had they secured the American in the summer, but certainly, the decision from sporting director Luke Dowling to not bring him in for just £2m is looking worse and worse as each game passes by.

They should have given him everything he was after.

AND in other news, 89% duels lost: West Brom ace drops disasterclass vs Sheff Utd…