Dorrans back in Roy's plans, but for how long?
Graham Dorrans made his long awaited return to the Albion starting eleven at Carrow Road on Saturday, which was received well by the Baggies fans who had been calling for the selection of the instrumental Scotsman since the start of the season. Although Dorrans did not last the 90 minutes, it was certainly refreshing to see him back in Hodgson`s first team plans, coming off the back of a frustrating season previously when so much was expected of him.
It was Tony Mowbray who bought Dorrans down from Livingston for a minute fee reported to be around £100,000. It was also Mowbray who gave Dorrans his full Premier League debut at Upton Park in a game where he performed with an assurance not expected of a young debutant to English football. He performed admirably for his remaining 4 games in the starting eleven in a season that eventually ended in relegation from the top flight. Following the departure of Mowbray to Glasgow Celtic and the arrival of then Milton Keynes Dons manager Roberto Di Matteo, it was feared that the opportunities for Dorrans to build on his promising performances might be somewhat stagnated by a manager who may never have seen the young, and relatively inexperienced, Scotsman play before. Instead it was to be the season where he flourished playing 52 games in all competitions, including 45 out of Albion`s 46 league encounters. He ended the season with a goal tally of 18 whilst picking up the PFA Fans' Player of the Year which was voted for by fans across the country. Following promotion to the Premiership bids were rejected by Jeremy Peace from top flight opposition, namely West Ham, with the club desperate to keep hold of their prized asset.
However personal problems and niggling injuries meant he was ruled out of the opening of the season, and an injury sustained in March after he had established himself in the team ended his season. It was an unfortunate campaign for the 24 year old, and for the baggies faithful. It is certain he will want to prove himself again this year, just as certain that Albion fans will be excited at the prospect of him producing the form that was central to the team`s success two years ago.
So when the news of the starting eleven reached the fans on Sunday, it was with an air of anticipation to see whether Graham Dorrans was to reach the high standards he had set for himself. By all accounts he played quite well, stamping his creativity on a side known for its free flowing football and ability to keep hold of possession. A real taster of what had been missing was exampled in the first half when picking the ball up in space around 30-yards from goal he hit a sweetly struck shot off the inside of the post before ricocheting to safety. However he was deployed largely in a wide position accommodating for Paul Scharner and Youssouf Mulumbu in the middle of the park, and he is at his most influential pulling his strings behind the front one or two and creating space for himself and others across the pitch. Nevertheless he certainly brings something different to a midfield that isn`t offered from the likes of James Morrison.
Whilst Morrison himself is a good technical footballer, it is too often you end up asking yourself what he contributed to the game come the final whistle. He drifts out of games regularly, but does have the ability to also produce a killer final ball or a goal from nowhere, for example his stunning strike against Manchester United on New Year`s Day. Dorrans is a more consistent performer, generally remains a threat for the time he is on the pitch, and is more likely to produce a goal out of nothing whether it stems from an assist or his own strike.
Last season saw the emergence of Charlie Adam at Blackpool, and my personal view is that whenever The Seasiders played West Brom whether it be in The Championship or The Premiership, Dorrans looked every bit as influential as Adam, who we know went on to earn a transfer to Liverpool in the Summer transfer window. I think it outlines the opportunities last season brought for the former Livingston man, and the kind of name he could have made for himself had circumstances not worked against him. Although, Blackpool did have the attention of the media and the pundits more so than other bottom half teams given the achievement it was for a team of their size to compete in the top flight. Taking this into account Adam did of course have a great season, but it was made somewhat easier for him to shine when there was such willingness for his side to do well from different outlets of the public that was not there for other teams. It certainly offers as an incentive to Dorrans that those are the headlines he can make if he lets his football do the talking, to use a horrible cliché, which he is more than capable of doing. It`s certainly great to see him back in first team plans and long may in continue to the great benefit of Roy Hodgson and West Bromwich Albion.
Hopefully Graham Dorrans takes his chance at a second full season of Premier League football, because he has great potential not only for club but for country as well. It would be a great shame if it was to be another season of missed opportunities for a player who should have no problem in capitalising on them.
Vital West Brom on:
Vital West Brom on: