Brentford 1 West Brom 0
“We have to start winning games.” was Slaven Bilić’s stark if obvious warning after the Baggies once again failed to score and allowed Brentford to take all three points at Griffin Park.
In truth, apart from a fifteen minute spell after half time, Albion were second best and the Bees were well worth their win, narrow as it was. The decisive moment came early in the first half when Ollie Watkins managed to get in front off Ahmed Hegazi to poke home Josh Dasilva’s deflected cross.
The statistics point to a very even game with Brentford edging possession 51-49 and the visitors ahead on attempts 12-9 but it was the hosts who looked the better side. The Baggies were still well short of their best and rarely looked like threatening with Kenneth Zohore’s powerful shot that struck the bar just after break the closest they came to breaking their post-lockdown scoring duck.
Having said that, Thomas Frank’s side’s also had very few clear cut chances although their build up play was much more fluid and, with two wins from two since the restart, they will be full of confidence for the remainder of the season.
Albion’s initial two performances are certainly concerning with Matheus Pereira the only attacking player to have settled back into anything like his best form, but some of the reaction on social media as, typically, been way over the top.
The Baggies are still well placed for automatic promotion and it is these same players and the head coach in place that have put them there. Calls for radical changes in tactics and even suggestions that Bilić has lost the plot are nothing short of ridiculous. Without the Croatian in charge, Albion would be nowhere near the promotion shake-up, in my opinion, and I have faith that he will be able to turn this situation around and secure automatic promotion.
The quality that the Baggies have in the side is not in dispute, but at Griffin Park they did not display it. In the first half, in particular, they looked lacklustre with far too many sloppy passes and not enough energy. It was better after the break but it didn’t lead to enough clear cut chances.
If there is a positive, it is that Brentford were also restricted to few chances despite their excellent build-up play. While they ultimately did enough to win this game, the Albion defence should take heart that the top scorers in the division were restricted to just two shots on target.
I feel sure that the attacking fluidity that we have enjoyed for most of this season will return and the next two fixtures are a great opportunity to record back-to-back victories and steady the ship.
Bilić was very honest in his post match press conference that the players’ performances were not good enough and I’m sure he will be reinforcing that message in the next few days before the trip to Hillsborough on Wednesday.
He is a massively experienced coach and he will not panic in the way that many Albion supporters seem to be. He has done an excellent job throughout this campaign and I’ve seen no reason to doubt that he will get the job done.