West Bromwich Albion 1 - Ipswich Town 1
Albion's dismal home form continued as they were held to a draw by bottom club Ipswich Town, and less than two hours after the final whistle manager Darren Moore paid the price. With them now nine points away from automatic promotion, first team coach James Shan takes temporary charge and reports suggest that the club hope to have a replacement in charge for Wednesday night's home game against Swansea with ex-Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic reckoned to be the favourite.
Although mainly forced through injury, the starting lineup didn't bode well with Holgate, Hegazi and Gibbs all missing as Albion swapped to a back three. But an early deflected free kick from Stefan Johansen swept those doubts aside - albeit only temporarily. Ipswich keeper Bartosz Bialkowski proved hard to beat and Albion were unable to increase their lead, and at the start of the second half the all-too-familiar equaliser arrived from Jon Nolan.
On the face of it, four wins in twelve and fourth in the table would not seem like enough cause to get out the P45s, but as the club said in their statement, everything this season was geared towards getting automatic promotion. Perhaps a more experienced manager and some investment in the team might have helped?
I think Moore’s removal was inevitable. Like almost every other Albion fan I know I was desperate for it to work, for him to learn fast, for his tactical nous to catch up with his character, honour, leadership and other obvious qualities. But I didn’t think it ever would.
He can hold his head high for all the crap he had to deal with and his genuine attempts to change the culture of the club and style of play.
But in reality he should never have been appointed and we should aim our ire at the people in charge for that, and for setting him up as the fall guy for all their dirty work and poor decisions.
I hope he gets another job in the right role somewhere soon, maybe even back with us after a year out.
This feels a bit like kicking him when he’s down but onto the game. I’m afraid it was a horror show.
The injuries made the starting 11 look alarming but what we then saw was even worse. We definitely started 4-4-2 with Dawson at right back.
The early goal we scored was almost embarrassing but won from a free kick which only happened because we had Gayle’s pace through the middle.
Straight from the kick-off after that we reverted to what looked like a 3-4-3 but, frankly, nobody knew what they were supposed to be doing. Townsend kept playing like a full back, Phillips was trapped too deep to hurt them, Livermore and AJ looked like a pair of strangers with neither sitting or attacking, JRod played narrow and deep giving us nothing on the right of the front 3 and Murphy, who I’d have started too, did his best to stay away from the ball and the opposition as much as possible.
In fact - I was convinced in the opening 20 minutes Murphy was injured as he walked about casually before, out of nowhere, actually going on a bit of a run.
Ipswich controlled the play and carved us open but lacked any sort of quality.
In the few moments when we managed to string 3 or 4 passes together our individual quality got us into positions where we should have done better but either made poor choices or found a decent keeper in our way.
2nd half was more of the same. Their goal wasn’t a surprise but was avoidable and saveable.
The subs made little sense and just added to the confusion. I think we went 4-4-2 for a bit before going back to a 3 when Tosin got injured.
Honestly, this was worse than Leeds and only Ipswich being terrible avoided it being a similar result.
The decision to return to a back 3, so hopelessly exposed earlier in the season, was probably the most unforgivable decision that smacked of a deluded arrogance that coaches know best. Was this Jones?
Really sad overall but the incompetents running the club are blessed with another chance that they don’t deserve - a half decent manager has got every chance of getting what is arguably still the best squad in the division promoted with 10 games and the play-offs.
4-2-3-1 against Swansea please!
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