West Bromwich Albion 1 - Blackpool 0
Crucial victory tonight against a Blackpool team who came for a point.
The starting 11 raised a few concerns but when we kicked off I was happy with the 4-2-3-1 setup. A back 4 with fewer gaps, Yokuslu sitting deep, TGH with the energy and Swift in that free role but defending when he needed to. Happier with Wallace back on the right and Phillips on the left in this system is never a bad shout if you’re looking for a more solid team and some power. Overall we looked much stronger physically and height-wise than in our last game and that extra man in the middle gives us a chance to control things.
We started well on the front foot and that meant we were less likely to concede early, and we were direct but we didn’t create much. I didn’t mind our patience and the way we moved the ball and we got into okay situations but up front we were toothless again and Grant, although he worked harder in closing down, kept coming way too deep for pointless passes. He also showed no movement whatsoever when Wallace broke in a 2 on 2 and actually helped the defence more. Finally, he was put through and showed good feet to shift the ball but shot tamely. He took a painful looking kick towards the end of the half and it might have been better for everyone if he came off injured for BTA but he stayed on.
I thought BTA might come on at HT or on 60 but all we did was switch Phillips and Wallace to opposite wings and whilst Phillips made a good fist of it on the right, Wallace was nullified by it and overall we were therefore weakened.
What followed was a period where O’Shea, Wallace and Bartley all took tactical yellows - something Furlong or anyone should’ve done on Saturday, so progress - but showing that we’d lost control and momentum.
I didn’t think the sub choices were great - Grady on for Wallace but on the right, then Rogic and Molumby for TGH and Grant but we did create some half chances. The final throw of the dice was BTA for Phillips and almost immediately we got a lucky break from a corner with Yokuslu steaming in at the back post to tap in.
Overall I preferred the system, shape and approach but until Dike is fit you’ve got to hope Corberan sees sense and drops Grant. Small steps.
Just wanted to send a note to thank Brendan Clegg for his tactically astute reports. Always my go-to for a good analysis of the game.
Not sure why he's not applied for the manager's job before??
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