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Victor Anichebe At West Brom - What Went Wrong?

When Sunderland signed Victor Anichebe last week it led to a number of questions from Sunderland supporters, mainly surrounding just what kind of role he would play at our club. Victor was a free agent, however - and what has been unclear, certainly in my eyes, is just why West Brom let go of a striker for nothing that they paid six million pounds for just three years prior. I caught up with Mark Thomas from Albion Till We Die to get his perspective on Anichebe's time at the club.

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RR: So, Victor Anichebe. He scored nine goals for West Brom in 61 appearances over the course of three seasons, though his playing time generally in the last few years has been limited mainly to substitute appearances. Overall, how do you rate his spell at your club?

MT: It was disappointing.His arrival at The Hawthorns was something of a let-down for fans - we were all hoping for Romelu Lukaku - and he never really managed to win supporters over.

I wouldn't say he was unpopular, he simply didn't play enough games to make an impression one way or another. In three years only two of his performances really stick in the memory which perhaps tells you everything you need to know about his time with the Baggies.

RR: He cost West Brom around six million pounds when he signed from Everton back in 2013 – all things considered do you feel like Anichebe justified his fee in his three years at the club?

MT: No not in the slightest and he never really looked likely to due to a seemingly never ending run of injury and fitness problems.

RR: Obviously the amount of goals he has scored across his career is a worry – why do you think he struggles to hit the net? Is his finishing poor or is just because he doesn’t necessarily get into the correct positions?

MT: I think it's more likely the latter. He's certainly not an out-and-out goalscorer, that's not his game at all.

He's more of a support striker, someone to trouble and distract defenders whilst those around him score the goals.

RR: Tony Pulis isn’t renowned for having teams that play free-flowing football – did this affect Anichebe’s success at West Brom in the last eighteen months in your opinion?

MT: For whatever reason I'm not sure Pulis ever really rated Anichebe. In theory he's the perfect striker for a Pulis side - he's big, strong, holds the ball up well - but Pulis never really seemed to have any faith in him.

Whether it's because he didn't trust him to last a full game or because of something else I really don't know. I think it was alluded to that Anichebe's fitness problems were perhaps mental as well as physical.

RR: How is Victor Anichebe best utilised?

He's excellent at holding the ball up and bringing others into the game and he's ideal to bring on perhaps when you're trying to see a game out.

RR: What would you say he’s going to bring to Sunderland’s team?

MT: If you can get him fit and motivated, and that's a big if, you have signed a quality striker that would be an excellent foil to Jermain Defoe.

I hope he does well for you, he seems a likeable guy, however, whether he's got the heart, motivation and fitness to really make his mark as a Premier League striker remains to be seen, I feel Sunderland is probably his last chance.