West Bromwich Albion 0 - Middlesbrough 2
I think that result had been coming.
A big call for Slav starting Barry after his Barnsley cameo where he really did look slow, but a welcome return for Phillips and Edwards to get some pace into the team.
We started okay but I thought Pereira and Phillips were well off it, not really breaking a sweat and it was almost as though they had been told to conserve energy.
Barry’s inclusion gave us a problem with pressing - he was decent enough on the ball but both he and Livermore were deep and HRK was isolated.
When defending corners we continued the ‘every man in our box’ tactic that I find really annoying - leave one man up and it occupies at least 2 of theirs and gives you a chance on the break and even more frustrating when you concede with an unmarked header with their player seemingly out jumping your keeper who has an arm’s length advantage.
After they scored they defaulted to awful time wasting for the rest of the match, enabled by a dumb referee who fell for it all, didn’t discipline their keeper and made a real hash of a few decisions.
We created bits before half time with HRK and Edwards getting into the game more and trying to make things happen but we were also very vulnerable on the break. Our short corners were also abysmal... again.
I thought the obvious HT change was Barry for Sawyers but Ferguson and Edwards made way for Austin and Townsend in what looked like an attempt to give us better balance and more up top, with Pereira on the right and Phillips left. I thought it was really harsh on Edwards who had grown into the game after a poor start and started to look threatening.
We had a bit of a go and stepped it up more when Krovinovic came on for Barry with Austin wasting 2 headers you have to score from and we wasted other good moments with a poor final pass. Inevitably Borough scored a second having looked more likely on the break anyway.
Overall I think Bilic got his starting team wrong and his subs were poor. Questions again about he choice of subs. If Sawyers wasn’t fit enough to bring on, give Harper, Willock or Tulloch a spot. Is there really a need for Krovinovic, Brunt and Sawyers? Where are the options?
Leeds is now a bigger game as we need to turn in a performance and avoid defeat.
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