Today came the not wholly unexpected news that Matheus Pereira was to be charged with violent conduct following his clash with Joe Allen towards the end of the first half of Monday’s game.
While from the Brummie the incident was unclear, having watched the TV pictures of the incident, it was not a surprise that the FA charge was forthcoming.
Nor was it a surprise that the club were quick to accept the charge. With the first of the three-game ban served with the FA Cup tie with West Ham, a game that he would have been unlikely to figure in, the Brazilian will only miss the Championship fixtures away to Cardiff City and at home to Luton Town.
It may be a strange thing to say that his suspension could be an opportunity, particularly given that Grady Diangana will also be missing for that period through injury, and that the pair have been Albion’s outstanding players this season, but there are several positives that could come from their combined absence from the team.
Firstly, Matheus Pereira has been carrying the hopes of the team on his shoulders with Diangana’s absence, and it is a weight that has seen his own form suffer. He desperately needs a rest and, while Slaven Bilić did rest him for the trip to Barnsley, he now knows that the Brazilian will get an enforced rest and the Croat will not have to answer any awkward questions as to why. Not that such questions would unduly bother him.
Secondly, his team mates are potentially as guilty as us fans at looking to Matheus to produce the goods. The other players will know that they need to step up without either of the magicians on the field. It may seem strange to see that as a potential positive, but Albion do have quality footballers beyond those two, and rather than just passing to one of them, they will have to take the responsibility themselves.
Thirdly, if Bilić wasn’t already considering it, Pereira’s absence will force a re-think. Is 4-2-3-1 the right formation to go forward with, or have our opponents now worked out how to counter that? It’s a formation that suits the Brazilian well, but without having to accommodate him, Slav can consider other options. Most teams play with three in the middle of the park, and let’s not forget that Albion’s last league victory was achieved when switching to a 3-5-2 formation at St Andrew’s. If teams have worked out how to stop us, maybe it is the right time to get them thinking again.
Finally, if Diangana’s injury wasn’t enough reason, Pereira’s suspension may make Dowling and team work a little quicker to get some new blood into the squad. News has emerged today that a move for the Croatian, Mislav Oršić, seems to be a real possibility, and there are a few other names floating around as well. Bilić has been more forthright about the desire to add to the squad in recent days, so hopes are high that something will happen.
Of course, I’d be much happier if both Diangana and Pereira were fit and available for every game we play, but great teams thrive in adversity and this Albion side could be a great team – this might be the time for them to show it.
Picture: Laurie Rampling