West Bromwich Albion 1 - West Ham United 3
It was brilliant to be back at the Hawthorns and the atmosphere was great - it felt like there were more of us. I did hear some boos when players took the knee which I found hugely disappointing at this of all clubs. It's not a minute of silence - even if you disagree is there really a need to boo players who take the decision to do it? I was ashamed and I'm glad the boos were largely drowned out.
When I saw the starting lineup with HRK getting the nod up front again, I really struggled to see how we'd find a way to win the game but I hoped we'd find a way via the occasion.
We started terribly - an odd ball down the line span funnily and somehow didn't go out of play, Ajayi hit a terrible backpass and we were lucky to get away with only conceding a penalty and not a red card too.
Rice hit the post and that gave the crowd a lift and in turn the players. It was a fairly even contest but, good grief, were West Ham big, strong, quick and not lacking in quality? We did well to stay in it and find pockets of space to get into decent situations, working the ball well, but I felt Maitland-Niles in particular was shoddy when it mattered going forward on more than one occasion.
Pereira's goal from a corner felt like it had been coming - he's been very close to doing it in the last 4 or 5 games and it was rightly awarded as his goal despite desperate attempts by the defender to keep it out - and he nearly did the same in the second half. The goal seemed to also give us a bit more energy and we had a couple of further nearly moments before I felt West Ham pegged us back and put us under intense pressure as the half drew to a close.
I thought the goal, in added time again, was really poor. We didn't see the game out as we should have, didn't clear our lines and get solid and whilst VAR might have rescued us it was just a poor and avoidable goal with too many players sleeping. Allardyce has really failed to sort this out, supposedly his forte. A different game if we go in 1-0 up.
Second half was a bit scrappy but I felt after an okay opening West Ham's power began to tell and we were no longer getting much change from them. I thought it was screaming out for an alternative striker - Diagne for his presence and/or maybe Robinson for Maitland-Niles coming off the left.
Allardyce left it until 20 today before getting Grady on - he needs minutes, it's his former club but was it the right sub to make? I thought not... although he looked tricky early on and gave us a bit of a lift.
I didn't think we were going anywhere and the other subs never came (maybe Diagne doesn't care, but Robinson has a decent goal record and HRK was run out) and so as we reached the final 10 it looked like we might get a credible draw. Not very Albion that - we conceded the cheapest and softest of goals from a corner for which about 3 players and the keeper should take blame, it really was pathetic. I don't think Allardyce ever sorted this out either.
And then some subs came, too little too late with Grant and Diagne coming on with HRK and Yokuslu coming off. I think our centre midfield became Phillips and Gallagher, so it was no surprise West Ham went on to get a third through a fairly basic break as we looked to equalise.
The players were fairly applauded off having given their all and the WBA site posted Allardyce was off as the final whistle blew. Interesting PR. Was he ever up for it? Is it really down to budget?
In appointing him in the first place we knew it would never be long term, and I doubt we'll ever be able to plan long term until we get new owners. So here we are again, like we have been for almost every season for the last few years, left with another summer rebuilding job, a brand new coach and set of assistants and who knows what style of play. Hopefully we get an appointment done quickly and give ourselves the best chance next season.
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