Analysis: West Brom's fight returns, but the hope does not
No wonder the Watford fans were willing to shovel snow in the morning in order to make sure the game went ahead.
It seems that, at the moment, playing Albion is a sure-fire way of tasting victory.
This was actually an improvement from the horror-show that was Huddersfield, and there was a reassuring degree of fight shown by the players.
After the game Alan Pardew said his team deserved at least a point, if not all three. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve the sack, even if he's managed to escape it again.
The Baggies were more secure in their shape thanks to a decision to switch to a five-man midfield. But that wasn’t Pardew’s idea, it was Chris Brunt’s. The head coach just bowed to the sense coming from his senior players.
There was a point in the second half when, in any other season, Albion would have gone on to win.
They were having the lion’s share of the chances, they were starting to turn the screw.
But just like the rest of this season, those chances went begging because the No.9 can’t finish. Watford’s No.9 on the other hand, just needed one opportunity.
But it didn't come as a shock to anyone who has watched Albion this season, because struggling to make dominance count and conceding late goals are two of the main hallmarks of this team.
When the goal went in there wasn't even much anger, just numbness, and acceptance. Of course they lost, that's what this team does.
While there may have been a bit more fight shown from those in blue and white, there were still elementary mistakes being made.
Not only was Salomon Rondon’s finishing woeful, but Troy Deeney’s goal was a horrendous one to concede.
Brunt and Grzegorz Krychowiak fell over each other to give the ball to Will Hughes, and the Watford man played one pass to cut open the whole back line.
Jonny Evans tried and failed to play offside – again – and Ahmed Hegazi’s questionable positioning was brought to light – again.
Watford were sloppy, they were misplacing passes and the home crowd started to get jittery.
Albion’s fans, meanwhile, were doing their utmost to roar their team onto an unlikely victory.
But even with all these elements stacked in their favour, the Baggies still lost.
Whatever happens, this team loses. Score two, they let in three. Let in one, they fail to score themselves.
It’s clear for all to see that Pardew is not the right man for the job.
He has now lost six in a row, and Albion have suffered five straight defeats in the league for the first time in more than seven years.
He’s picked up eight points from a possible 45 and taken the club from just above the drop zone to eight points from safety.
Even though part of this is down to the mess he inherited, he’s run out of ideas.
In the second half, Javi Gracia brought on Stefano Okaka and Will Hughes, and both men made an impact.
Pardew, meanwhile, stuttered before bringing James McClean on with nine minutes to go.
By then, the horse had already bolted. Deeney had scored, heads had dropped.
The fans have not turned on Pardew with the same ferocity they did Pulis earlier this season.
Perhaps that’s down to two years of bitterness towards the Welshman building up inside, or perhaps it’s because of an acceptance of their fate, a blissful apathy that negates the need for anger.
Because if we're being honest, this team is going down, regardless of who’s in charge.
Instead, the fans made sure they enjoyed themselves. They had braved the weather to be there, and they were going to sing for the club, and for themselves, if not the manager or the players.
There was a brief moment at the end of the match when the players went over to clap the fans when it looked like relations between the two were starting to repair.
That's probably because many have accepted their fate now, they just want to see some pride shown for the shirt.
Albion gave them that on Saturday, but once again, it wasn’t enough to win. It never is.