West Bromwich Albion 1 - Manchester United 2
I felt pretty good about our chances before the game, but as the song goes, if we didn't have bad luck we'd have no luck at all. When you are struggling deflections always seem to end up in the back of the net and marginal calls go against you. J-Mac was barged over and later J-Rod got a forearm across the face, both in the area. Neither were clear penalties, but I've see those kind called against us in the past.
We battled gallantly to the end, but a scrambled goal from a corner was all we could muster against, frankly, a very ordinary Manure. We have looked very decent in matching two top four teams, and yet all we have to show for it is a point. Using the notional forty point safety target we need 26 from our remaining 20 games. Eight wins and two draws doesn't seem that daunting until you remember that we haven't won since August.
Pardew must be wondering who is going to get us goals. We have five potential goalscorers not on the pitch today. A fit Dawson would probably replace Nyom and provide a fearless aerial threat. Ditto G-Mac, but he is unlikely to displace either Evans or Hegazi. Then we have Phillips and Chadli, both of whom had brief purple patches last season, but seem to be eternally injured, and/or disgruntled in the case of Chadli. Finally there is Mozza, who, in his prime, could be counted on for a handfull of goals, but is probably done. I would start Brunt ahead of Krychowiak for his dead ball delivery alone. The latter's corners are a horrible waste. Burke looks a bit like a right footed J-mac. Lots of running, but 15 million quid??
Every game is starting to look like a 'must win'. A victory over fellow strugglers Stoke would be a great place to start.
The table going into the match looked pretty painful. I thought the lineup made a lot of sense. Personally I’d have gone with Brunty wide right in place of HRK from Liverpool to try and give us that little bit of quality in the final third but I thought Pardew was brave in going for the pace of Burke.
However we had a pretty poor first half and only Pardew will know whether he tactically wanted us to be so deep and passive or whether a couple of players let him down.
Rondon played most of the first half in total isolation with McClean the only player who could get near him.
Burke didn’t get any service and should probably have done better dealing with an aerial ball before their first goal.
The big disappointment for me were Greg and Livermore. They were pretty negative, showed Utd way too much space and respect and didn’t get up near Rondon at all. At least Livermore ran about a bit and linked it.
The second goal looked a harsh deflection as Foster hadn’t had to do too much but it did seem inevitable given how rarely we could get on the ball.
Second half I didn’t think the Barry/Yacob switch was really worth it but Pardew opened the game up and gave Burke a free role in a sort of 4-3-3.
To his credit his raw pace and great cross on the half volley created a great chance for Rondon/McClean who had both steamed into the box but I’m not sure if they got in the way of each other and it went begging.
He soon made way for Rodriguez but it was the introduction of Brunt for Greg with about 20 to go that gave us something we’d really been missing.
Within 10 minutes he’d put Rondon on with a very good chance on his wrong foot, had an attempt at goal and via his first corner created a goal. I cannot overstate how bad our set plays had been until Brunt’s first.
We were in the game from that point with JRod trying a snapshot, Brunt creating things and us having a right go but once again we came up short on quality and luck.
I’m taking heart from a few things.
Firstly although the table looks bad, when you consider we haven’t won for nearly half a season it’s pretty amazing that we are still so in touch with so many teams.
We also have 3 proven attacking players at this level coming back like 3 new signings.
I think we’re also a lot more positive - we need a really good run but I still have faith we’re capable of it and Pardew seems to be making largely straightforward common sense decisions in his starting teams and substitutions that I think the majority of people agree with.
Next week is massive - if we lose that my belief will probably begin to ebb away but if we turn up and have a right go they are there for the taking.
Surprise surprise. The ref was rubbish - it would have been nice to get just the one 50/50 decsion in our favour. Some things in this league never change.
An odd sort of a game. Firstly United - a typical Jose Moanerino team. Nasty, niggley, fall over and wave arms around a lot, identical to Chelsea when the moaner managed them. Not in the same class as City.
Us. Sorry Mr P but thought the team selection was wrong. Olly Burke is quick and skilful, but looked very green at times - just not the type of game for him to start at the moment. Thought Gregor K was awful - and should never take a corner again. We looked a different team when Barry and Brunty came on. How we have missed his crosses and corners so lets hope he stays fit now and starts next week.
I think one of the biggest problems is that we cannot change from playing the Pulis way overnight, plus PLEASE can we buy a creative midfielder in January - someone who knows how to build and push forward instead of sideways and backwards.
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