West Bromwich Albion 1 - Southampton 2

Date: Saturday 17th February 2018 
Competition: FA Cup (R5)
Foster 6.1, Dawson 5.8, McAuley 5.0, Hegazi 6.2, Evans 3.8, Phillips 3.9 (Burke, 89 3.5), Barry 3.9 (Brunt, 72 5.1), Krychowiak 5.7 (Field, 82 5.0), McClean 6.7, Rondón 7.5, Rodriguez 4.7
Unused subs: Myhill, Nyom, Yacob, Gabr
Manager: Alan Pardew 3.5
Scorers: Rondón (58)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh 5.1
Attendance: 17,600   Home Fans 6.3   Away Fans 5.3


I'm writing a screenplay about a flawed football team. Let me know what you think. The synopsis: The Asian owner, peeved at having been duped into shelling out 180 million quid for a team now languishing at the foot of the Premier, has a hissy fit and fires the Chairman and CEO. Meanwhile elsewhere The FA grant the team's striker, accused of a racial slur (possibly erroneously), an extension to prepare his defence. Desperate to bolster morale, the Manager takes the team to Spain for a stress reliever and bonding session. Deciding that the best way to relieve stress is to go out on the piss until five AM, four senior members of the squad pinch then a taxi and abandon it in front of their hotel. This results in them being hauled in front of the police. To be continued...... I know this synopsis is over the top and hardly realistic, but it is just theatre after all.

As for today's game, a win would have gone some way to dousing the flames building in intensity around the Hawthorns. But it was a microcosm of our season. Some ropey defending, lots of effort - especially in the second half, very short on creative and finishing skill (except for one brilliantly taken goal by Rondon) and not much luck. Result: Another loss to a crap team. If we are able to keep the intensity we showed in the second half for the next six games you would think it should bear fruit, but I am not confident. Two home defeats to a struggling team like Southampton tells us all we need to know.

Brendan Clegg:

I can’t have been the only person disappointed, disgusted and possibly even horrified by the starting 11 today. Barry, Evans & Myhill should’ve been out of the squad for their embarrassing behaviour and, frankly, with our results this season you could’ve made a case for it without taxi-gate.

I really hoped Field would get a game and I hoped we’d get to see what the new Egyptian centre-back could do. I thought the selections and formation were pathetic - as if we hadn’t played Southampton so recently and been utterly dominated by their extra legs in the middle and, sad as it is, conceding 3 goals due to McAuley’s lack of legs. I’d have gone 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1.

Pardew’s judgement to do what he did left me with the opinion that if we lost, he had to go.

I thought the first half we were terrible. Evans at left back playing like he was still drunk, GMac at constant risk of being exposed, Dawson having to cover him, Barry at least trying to atone but being nowhere quick enough, Greg strolling about like it was a friendly or looking for fouls that never were and Phillips terrified to get on the ball. Rondon, JRod, McClean, Hegazi and Foster at least tried but were handicapped by the others.

The goal was terrible defending from a set play, repeated throughout the half and we only threatened from our own corners although not massively. There is nothing else to report. We were crap.

2nd half we at least had a go.

JRod missed a gift of a one-on-one and then we missed sitters from 2 set plays. As we pushed GMac got caught up the pitch and a long hoof took Hegazi out of position. As the scooped cross came in the covering Krychowiak had followed his runner but seemed to do his best to get out of the way and let him through to score. Terrible but summed us up under Pardew - miss big chances and concede poor goals.

Quite soon after McClean did someone else’s job by coming into the centre to win the ball before giving it to Greg, who went long to Rondon. From my rare visit to the Halfords I was in perfect position behind Rondon as he hit it perfectly first time on the volley. My 7 year old, attending his first game, will wait a long time to see a better goal.

From there on we huffed and puffed, probably should have scored from some corners when we went agonisingly close but couldn’t do it despite the introductions of Brunt, Field and Burke.

I don’t think there is any point in Pardew staying. I don’t blame him for the mess we were in or the imbalance in the squad, especially in creative midfield, but he couldn’t get it going, certainly has been unlucky but seems now to have desperately lost the plot; the air and approach of hoping it will happen rather than any strategy.

Silva, Potter, Pearson? I thought Moyes was the perfect fit for us given our squad, style of play and expectations. Should we wait and see if West Ham release him upon survival? Would any of them come or do we need to try and temp someone less-proven but promising?

We should be planning for next year at any rate.

  • Foster - 7 Once again not to blame.
  • Daws - 6 Solid enough but no threat.
  • McAuley - 5 An absolute legend and couldn’t fault the attitude or effort but the first five yards are really starting to show and he was vulnerable. He could still stand and head it away with a quick partner but looks like it’s over at this level.
  • Hegazi - 6 Decent enough.
  • Evans - 5 The first 20 was as bad as he’s ever been for us albeit out of position. Recovered his performance a bit but we had better options.
  • Phillips - 5 Hid or avoided play for so long. Looks shot to pieces on confidence yet still got crosses in.
  • Barry - 5 Seemed to me to be giving it everything but was overrun and the passes just went wrong.
  • Greg - 5 Decent ball for Rondon’s goal but we need so much more from him. You simply can’t rely on him to really put 100% in from week to week.
  • McClean - 7 Whatever his technical limitations or self-control sometimes, he gives it everything and his uncomplicated directness, effort, desire were there again. Wanted it.
  • JRod - 5 Another who you couldn’t fault for effort but had to score when given a gift. Kept running.
  • Rondon - 7 Gets an extra mark for the goal but the reality was it was the usual good and bad; effort, commitment and good moments, poor play and weak moments.

Brunt did alright, Field won a 50/50 header with his first touch but like Burke came on too late to do anything. I don’t see how Leko’s unorthodox unpredictability could be any worse than what we’re seeing.