West Bromwich Albion 0 - Chelsea 4
Albion made it ten Premier League games without a win with a hapless performance against Chelsea, and manager Tony Pulis paid the price with his job on Monday morning.
Gary Megson will take charge of the team until further notice.
Birmingham Mail: Tony Pulis sacked as Albion manager
Well what can you say about that? A total lack of quality; Livermore, Phillips, Gregor and Rondon are no Hazard, Fabregas, Kante and Morata.
Men v Boys. Embarrassing.
In a word - bleak. Bleak for West Brom and for Pulis. No surprise losing to Chelsea of course, but that was probably our worst defensive performance under Pulis. Playing three centre halves has made all three of them worse. They looked very unsure who they were supposed to be marking, each goal resulting with them looking around at each other.
Our so-called 'defensive' midfield did little defending in the first half. Ironically, going forward we looked more adventurous than of late, but once we went two down it was pretty well over as a contest. Phillips gave us some drive down the right flank and had one of his better games, but he is no defender.
The very welcome introduction of Yacob at half time game us a more solid look. He does the simple things (win the ball and pass it off) so well. If only he could curb his wild side, he would be even better. JMac gave us more energy and should have been on earlier, but then fluffed our best chance on a breakaway. Rondon did what he could to hold the ball up and looked sharper than in recent games. With us 3-0 down at half time Burke should have been given a full half. As it was he ran around, but didn't really get into the game, so we still don't know why we shelled out 15 million for him.
If Pulis goes it won't be because of today's loss. It will be because we have totally lacked ambition against weaker teams. Mr Lai, it's down to you, I'm afraid. Not sure who we would bring in, but Pulis is looking clueless.
Seeing the starting lineup and formation had me reaching for the tramadol and judging by atmosphere it seemed like most people at the ground had beaten me to it.
Having seen a back 3 (or 5) with 3 holding midfielders in front of it fail (again) against a newly promoted team, surely only Tony Pulis thought that with a couple of tweaks in personnel this failing approach would be transformed into something good enough to beat the current Premier League champions.
He was in cloud cuckoo land. And what do old reliable stalwarts like Brunt and Yacob have to do to get a start. How bad does our form have to be?
It's true that we started a bit better thanks to Phillips and Rondon being able to run and get us up the pitch, but defensively there were warning signs straight away.
I think Hegazi and McAuley are brilliant professionals who will give you everything, block everything in front of them and head the ball away whenever it comes anywhere near them.
But in a 3 you can only play one of them - the one who stands in the centre and deals with the headers whilst the two either side have the legs and quality on the ball to cover, carry it out, come across to the channels to cover either wing back.
Asking Hegazi and McAuley especially at his age to do that was riduculous, unfair and was like throwing them under the bus. Time and again they were pulled out of where they wanted to be through the movement of Hazard and Morata - and with a midfield that could get nowhere near on top of a passer as good as Fabregas we were like sitting ducks. They were too often left one-on-one with very quick and dangerous players.
After 15 minutes it was clear we needed to go 4 at the back, but Pulis didn't react and we were 3 down by half time with the game completely over.
I would say that in that first half after the first goal, it is the first time that most of the players looked like they were no longer playing for the manager.
Like most people I was happy to see Yacob at come on at the break but honesty, what was the point? A defensive midfielder for purely damage limitation purposes?
He did well but it was it was the system that still caused us problems and it wasn't that long before a fourth.
The other subs were too little, too late and didn't really address our balance and pace problems either.
And despite being 2,3,4 nil down do you think ever did anything when defending a corner than have all 11 of our players in our box? Leave Rondon or Phillips on the halfway line. Give us something to get out.
I could go on and on but honestly, what is the point. We've seen it all before.
In the ground, at the station and on the train different people were blaming different players - Livermore, Rondon, Phillips, Barry etc but I don't think you can blame the players - they do what they can do and aren't picking themselves in this system.
If I had to try and pull some positives out of it, I thought there were moments despite their almost total isolation that JRod and Rondon looked like they might be on something like a wavelength. In a team that attacks with support, Jrod in the 10 role behind Rondon might work.
Also on a very rare moment when we got a cross into the box, Rondon powered a header into the goal - it may have been offside but it did serve as a reminder that with people who can cross in the team high enough up the pitch we might not be completely toothless.
Pulis surely has to go - I hear the 'careful what you wish for' and 'raised expectations' lines but Albion fans are generally pessimistic and realistic. My expectations are survival, the same as last year, but with the hope that I might actually be entertained instead of having games reduced to complete fortune and the hope that enough breaks go our way.
If anyone is worried about him going somewhere elese and keeping them up at our expense, put him on gardening leave for a season as it will cost more or less the same.
We are in big trouble but this is still a great job with a decent squad. Surely we can tempt somebody decent and with EPL experience? Hard to see how anyone could do worse.
I don't think it's worth marking Burke and McClean.
[ Is 20/1 according to Sky. Sadly, Allardyce is 5/2... ]
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