Somen Tchoyi is the kind of player who leaves managers and coaches scratching their heads and yelping with despair.
When the Cameroonian first joined West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2010 the then head coach Roberto Di Matteo expressed his disappointment when first asked about his new player’s prospects of performing in the first team.
I remember it being around the time of Albion’s home game against Sunderland early into the season.
Di Matteo insisted Tchoyi’s fitness was way, way behind everyone else’s. Yet the giant midfielder-cum-forward made the bench for the late August game at Liverpool.
Since then we’ve seen the best of Tchoyi – dynamic performances in games against Newcastle and Everton last season, with a match-saving display at Fulham and general panic-spreading in the Black Country derby against Wolverhampton Wanderers at The Hawthorns.
But there have also been many games which have simply passed him by.
And current Baggies boss Roy Hodgson, as much as he appreciates a player who can change a game, clearly isn’t one for picking someone he doesn’t trust.
Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to – Hodgson, much like the Albion fans and opposition players, simply cannot call what Tchoyi is going to do next.
Keith Downing, Hodgson’s right-hand man, revealed more into the quandary facing the manager. While Tchoyi’s qualities are appreciated, his lack of nous elsewhere damages his first-team prospects.
“In fairness, in the training days he’s attentive and listens,” said Downing.
“We did a session on shape work this week and he put his thoughts and movement into the game, he knows what we’re trying to point out and where he should be, so it’s about him doing it on a daily basis, in training and in games. But he needs consistency. That’s what Somen needs to strive for.
“He needs to maintain that consistently because he has an abundance of talent, he’s a match-winner as we’ve seen before and he can make an impact on games as he did at Fulham. But it’s a case of him learning about positional play tactically, we know technically he has got it in abundance but tactically it’s knowing and understanding what role he needs to do as part of the team and those things are what we want.
“It’s taken Roy so many months to drill that into him and Somen needs to take it on board on a training day and a match day.
“But we know his ability and he’s in our plans for the final eight games.”
Tchoyi has failed to make the bench for Albion’s last two games with him and Gabriel Tamas being the odd men out when Hodgson has named his 18-man match-day squad for the games against Wigan and Newcastle.
Downing claims Tchoyi still has a chance of making an impact this season.
“Looking at the bench it depends on who we feel can cover any given game,” added Downing.
“We had two defenders in Nicky Shorey and Craig Dawson, then Shane Long and Simon Cox up front, and then the midfielders so it was about the selection for that particular game, but Somen is still very much in our thoughts. There were 19 or 20 players training and he just failed to make that 18.”