What’s gone wrong for Hal Robson-Kanu at West Brom?
West Bromwich Albion striker Hal Robson-Kanu was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat to Chelsea. He has made only two Premier League starts all season – the last saw him hooked off on the hour mark.
The Wales international has also picked up more yellow and red cards in all competitions than scored goals this campaign. Furthermore, Robson-Kanu's displays for the Baggies have left a lot to be desired. So, what’s gone wrong?
What did West Brom expect?
Robson-Kanu’s stint in the Midlands will be remembered for his endeavour, lack of goals and failure to command a starting place. But what else did West Brom think they were getting with a free transfer? The striker has never scored double figures in the league over a season, nor has he been indispensable in a side.
In addition to Albion, the 28-year-old has played for Reading, Southend United and Swindon Town. He’s made around 310 career appearances, scoring only 43 goals as a centre-forward. He was never going to solve his current club's woes in the final third. The Baggies currently sit one point and two places above the relegation zone, with only four Premier League teams scoring fewer goals. In addition, just one West Brom player has scored more than once this season.
Robson-Kanu’s best campaign at club level was in 2012/13 when he scored seven league goals for Reading. He hasn’t matched that tally in the top-flight or Championship since, nor has he ever nailed down a starting place for a season's entire course. In the games throughout his career, the Welshman has started less than 60% while being substituted in 34%. Meaning he has lasted the full 90 minutes in just 26% of his appearances.
That trend has continued at West Brom. Robson-Kanu made 29 league appearances in his debut season, but only five were starts. To have picked up more yellow and red cards (5) than goals (4) for the Midlands club speaks volumes about his actual goalscoring quality.
Tony Pulis didn’t want him
Although Tony Pulis has since departed the Hawthorns, Robson Kanu wasn't on his former manager's shortlist. The club signed the striker due to his impressive Euro 2016 campaign for Wales. His true nature at club level may have been forgotten.
In September 2016, Pulis admitted: “He (Robson-Kanu) wasn’t one of my main targets. He was available at the end and we thought he would be a good acquisition. But to say he was one of the marquee signings would be wrong - we’d have signed him at the beginning of the transfer window if he was.”
Pulis had an ongoing battle with the board to sign his first choice targets, but he had to make do with plan b options. Robson-Kanu was available for nothing at the end of the window. He was also on Championship wages so didn't break the bank.
Unfortunately, however, Robson-Kanu has failed to dispel the criticism that he’s just a hard-working striker who can’t score at the top level. With West Brom’s Premier League status at genuine risk this season, he could find himself frozen out if his struggles continue.