West Bromwich Albion 1 - Leicester City 4
Another promising start ended, predictably, in misery. There was nothing in today's performance that suggested a miraculous escape is possible. Burke was given a run out and provided a little spark for our goal. Naive as he is on the ball, at least he gave us some speed. Rondon worked tirelessly and took his goal well, but the sad truth is we are a disjointed bunch of hasbeens that can't keep the ball out of our own net and struggle to create anything at the other end. How Phillips stayed on long enough to take the worst free kick in living memory I will never know.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, I don't hold Pardew entirely responsible for our plight, but there is no chance he is going to be the guy to lead us in the Championship, so I would shake his hand now, put Darren Moore in charge until the end of this season and tell the players to just go out and have a bit of fun in the last eight games whilst they talk to their agents about their futures.
It's hard to imagine who will be left to trot out in Baggies colors next August. One or two of the better players will be snapped up by premier league teams. The bulk of the older players need replacing and the younger ones have not been given enough exposure for us to evaluate. So all in all, it's a bloody mess. The technical director can go now too. This needs a complete rethink. I have been watching Albion since the late fifties, so I hope Albion make it back to the Premier before I snuff it. Always a Baggie!!
On seeing the starting lineup and formation I was mildly optimistic. It certainly looked like a team with pace and chances in it. My worry was that there were not too many warriors or leaders in the team.
We started well and after a decent move Burke’s pace got him in behind to cross first time as Rondon got across his marker (for once?) to poke home. A great goal. And our decent start continued with Greg, who started really well, hitting the bar with a decent deflected shot.
We did look a bit of a worry at the back and Leicester came very close to equalising.
As the game progressed we worryingly started to lose discipline. Despite the success of his goal, Burke’s positioning started to drift inside too much and Phillips was the same. We started to lose a grip on the match and our senior centre midfielders were getting too sloppy on the ball.
The difference was that Leicester’s wide players, Gray and Mahrez, came in off the lines and gave us real problems with their technique and movement but we were static.
Then, Burke tracked back brilliantly to tackle and we looked in a decent position to break as he gave it to Greg before, it seemed, he’d sprint ahead to offer an option.
Instead Greg played a hopeless and inaccurate hoof in the direction of Rondon, giving the ball away cheaply and 3 passes or so later Mahrez hit a long ball to Vardy which Dawson didn’t deal with and, in fairness, he finished in world class fashion on the volley over his shoulder on his wrong foot.
As the half closed Rondon sprinted half the pitch to shoot but his shot deflected over and that was that.
Overall I thought a big 2nd half from our centre midfield and a more pragmatic approach to dealing with the pace of Vardy and we might sneak it. How wrong I was.
The first 15 minutes of the half were Greg at his worst. He had loads of space but was diabolical - lazy, half-hearted and showing no discipline.
Unfortunately, almost straight after he was hooked for Field we conceded another cheap goal at which the blame could be laid at the door of about 6 players but, in honesty, one that smacked of total lack of tactical planning and defensive discipline albeit Mahrez finished well.
And despite us being only a goal down with loads of time left Pardew seemed to totally lose the plot.
Despite Leicester already causing us problems he removed a pacey winger for a slow forward, went 4-4-2 and shunted Field out left. The result? Rodriguez was utterly anonymous and didn’t have a touch. We lost creativity, pace and defensive cover on the left, Brunt and Livermore (neither the quickest) were outnumbered and leggy in the centre and were left exposed like lambs to the slaughter.
Leicester obliged by cutting us to pieces and scored quickly afterwards although it was a poor and simple goal.
Pardew thought that this was opportunity to reduce our pace even more by taking off Burke for HRK, possibly leaving us with the slowest midfield and forward line in EPL history, with no width whatsoever. We went from being a team with a threat, albeit disjointed due to there being changes in personnel and people playing in different positions with new partnerships all over the pitch, to a collection of players probably not good enough at their lowest ebb of confidence in a system that was tactical suicide.
The only surprise is it wasn’t more than 4 and despite the boos of others in the crowd I felt a bit sorry for the players in the way the were hung out to dry by the manager’s stupidity. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was outright mutiny in the changing room afterwards.
In my opinion Pardew was absolutely right in everything he said about Krychowiak post-match. He’d completely stopped tracking back and was playing his own game purely for his own ego. But Pardew’s in-game deconstruction of everything we’d done well in the match and ability to somehow accentuate all of the things we’d done poorly was almost an inverse work of genius. He blamed the players for giving in but he stripped away our out-balls and set us up in a way that was totally out of step with the way the game was going.
I don’t believe anyone could do any worse and clearly he’s lost the dressing room and is tactically out of his depth. We might as well promote from within until the end of the season and put him on gardening leave.
The season can’t end soon enough.
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