West Brom have blown hot and cold throughout what has been an infuriating campaign for supporters, but never before has their inconsistency been as prevalent as in the last few weeks.
The Baggies were impressive as they beat promotion-chasing Fulham and Bournemouth in the last five weeks – either side of a poor showing at Bristol City and a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of local rivals Birmingham City at home.
And the 3-1 loss to Stoke at the weekend in front of an despondent home crowd saw an increasingly frustrated Bruce claim that Albion’s squad is in need of major surgery in the summer if the club is to get back into the Premier League.
That result now means that a play-off place is all but out of reach with the club sitting 12th in the division and already preparing for a second successive season in the Championship.
“The season so far has been absolutely awful,” West Brom Fan TV tells FansBet.
“We have underachieved massively, especially given that at the start of the season a lot of people, including myself, probably would’ve tipped us to at least make the play-offs.
“But we have been miles off that and the players have really disappointed the fans this season.”
Steve Bruce was sacked by Newcastle in October and had hinted at retirement following his dismissal, but the 61-year-old took charge of the Baggies following the departure of Valerian Ismael in February.
Former Barnsley boss Ismael led the Tykes to the play-offs last season and was tasked with going one step better with West Brom, but a negative style of play and a run of one win from seven over the festive period triggered his exit.
And in the space of just over nine weeks since then, his successor Bruce has taken the Baggies from fifth in the table to 12th, with promotion back to the Premier League now looking highly unlikely.
In his 12 games in charge so far, West Brom have lost six and recorded only three victories, with the club eight points beneath the play-off fray with five games remaining.
As a result, Bruce’s future is likely to come under the magnifying glass in the coming weeks with the Baggies’ hierarchy eager to secure a return to the top flight.
“We started off really well and went 10 games unbeaten, but from there it went downhill,” says West Brom Fan TV.
“The season has been the most disappointing and poor season I’ve witnessed as an Albion fan and I’m sure that’s the same for many other people around the same age as me.
“Steve Bruce wasn’t the most ambitious appointment and he hasn’t done as well as I expected.
“It’s clearly evident to see that whatever manager we have no one will be able to get the best out of this group of players as they have thrown quite a few managers under the bus with their attitude and performances.”
Despite Ismael’s inconsistent results and conservative play-style, West Brom only lost one of 14 league games at the Hawthorns under the current Besiktas boss’ stewarship.
By comparison, Bruces’ Baggies have slipped to two losses from six on their own soil – at the hands of Swansea City and Midlands neighbours Stoke City on the weekend.
The defeat to the Potters was West Brom’s third home loss this season – all of them coming since the turn of the year – and their downturn in form has all but derailed a promotion push.
So, barring a run of five straight wins and a number of remarkable collapses elsewhere, a second season in the Championship awaits as West Brom look to return to the top-flight having been relegated in 2021.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of optimism for next season having what we have witnessed this season,” West Brom Fan TV admits.
“A lot of people are fearing for where the club might be in a few years’ time and I can’t say that I really blame them.
“If we are to compete next season the first thing we need to do is have a massive clear out of the current squad and get rid of the deadwood in the team until we do that I don’t think we will achieve anything in terms of promotion.”