West Bromwich Albion 2 - Fulham 2
A must win game that we didn’t win and so for me that’s curtains barring something akin to top 6 form in our remaining games which is unlikely with only potentially 2 more players coming in.
The first half was totally diabolical. I see and hear the players getting a lot of stick and that’s fair enough but The system and tactics were crackers. We sort of played 3-5-1-1 with the central three of the 5 in a narrow triangle and all we did was boom the ball every time we got it.
All Fulham had to do was get it wide and we were overloaded all over the place. The players didn’t really know what to do, where to cover, whether it was the 3 CBs who should double up on Mitrovic to stop him bringing it down or the sitting midfielder. There were gaps everywhere, no options to pass to and we could’ve been 3 down in the first 15.
For the goal and the repeat chances, Gibbs got taken to pieces or caught trying to cover round and Snodgrass gave no cover because he can’t.
Had we not gone 4-5-1 on 25 mins we’d have been annihilated by half time and my only criticism was that Allardyce made a sub to do it - I’d have put O’Shea to right back, put Furlong either left wing or left back with Gibbs in front or behind him and Gallagher right wing, keeping Pereira central and blocking things off to HT in order to get Diagne on, rather than bring on Grant so early as frankly he’s done nothing to justify minutes.
Despite the shocking half, just before HT if Grant had shown any composure or team ethic he’d have left a great chance to Gallagher or slipped in Snodgrass for an easy chance instead of selfishly going alone on the turn on his wrong foot.
The second half was the template - 4-2-3-1, Livermore and Snodgrass sitting and being nasty, Diagne being the obvious modern target we’ve been missing and Pereira in the hole behind him. My only criticism was Robinson coming off - I’d have had him wide over Grant or Gallagher and ultimately I think that came back to bite us when either of those elected to dive or make terrible decisions in great situations.
We were transformed anyway. We turned the game on its head with Livermore tenacious, Snodgrass showing grit but using the ball well centrally and Pereira influential as Diagne did all the graft to stretch Fulham, make it stick or just give us a fighting chance to pick things up. 2 great goals, some great breaks (Gallagher stay on you feet and cross the bloody thing) and limiting Fulham to nothing. JL and RS snapping at Mitrovic as soon as he tried to bring it down.
Fulham made subs to try and get something and I was worried about their player Reed who at a glance you wouldn’t notice but - and hear me out here - I’d seen in previous games play something like Andreas Iniesta in the way he moves the ball, finds space. A really bright player, and sure enough he took the sting out of us by picking up the second balls off Diagne and popped the ball off to get them going. It was his cross that gave them their equaliser.
The defending for that equaliser though was calamitous. It game such a long way and bounced. Furlong and Gallagher caught napping when, perhaps, an experienced right winger would have covered it off.
There was still time for Grant to fluff his lines at the death, getting caught in two minds when presented with a cross at the back post. Composure, control, square it, tap in. He didn’t.
I think we’ll beat the all time low points record for the league but I remain doubtful we’d get to a total of 38 points in 2 seasons let alone this one.
Definitely a game of 2 halves neither of which gives me any confidence that we can beat the drop. Just a couple of observations:
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