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Jimmy Shan: West Brom will learn from errors ahead of play-offs

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Jimmy Shan has promised Albion will learn from their mistakes at Pride Park ahead of the huge play-off derby games with rivals Aston Villa.

Caretaker boss Jimmy Shan. (AMA)

The Baggies were beaten 3-1 by Derby County on the final day of the regular season, ending a four-game unbeaten run.

Shan was disappointed with many aspects of the second half performance but is confident Albion will right those wrongs on the training ground this week.

“There were some things that were good,” he said. “There’s lots of things we can take from this in terms of tightening and improving.

“If parts of the momentum have been knocked, there’s things in there we can make sure we rectify and improve before our next games.

“We can always turn a mistake into a positive and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

Albion travel to Villa Park on Saturday lunchtime, and their rivals also tasted defeat on the final day of the regular season, to champions Norwich.

That ended a 12-game unbeaten run for Dean Smith’s men, which included a club-record 10-game winning streak, but Shan isn’t letting that form concern him.

“Every game has been a test this year,” he said. “It’s a very good standard and highly competitive league.

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“Whoever we’ve faced over the course of the season and who ever we were going to face in the play-offs would have been a difficult task.

“Our job now is to make sure we plan and prepare to the best of our ability.”

The Baggies have been playing a back three in recent weeks, and it has proved successful in the main part, especially at home.

Albion have won three out of three games playing 3-5-2 under Shan, although they drew away at Reading and lost at Derby in a slightly different 3-4-3 system.

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However, the caretaker has not ruled out changing his shape for the play-offs and confirmed he would take into account Villa’s own tactics before deciding on his own.

“Within my coaching journey I’ve always been dubious to say we are playing that shape and formation because at any given time in any match you can flip it and a back three can become a back four or vice versa,” he said.

“It’s aided us having three centre backs that play direct and a front two. Tactically it gives you that numerical advantage.

“It’s been important to play our two main goalscorers (Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez) up top and central as much as we possibly can.

“I’m not saying that’s going to remain the case. Football’s a numbers game. If you play a back three against a lone striker you’re wasting a body.

“If you’re leaving three v one you’ve got one less body to attack and it kills you, you’re stronger behind the ball but you take away chances to penetrate.

“You have to take into account what the opposition do and tweak things tactically, that’s the role of the coach and the manager.”

Albion added Steven Reid and Michael Appleton to Shan’s backroom staff ahead of the play-offs to help take the burden off Jamie Smith, Deon Burton and Mark Harrison.

“It’s definitely been an aid,” said Shan. “Deon (Burton) still had the loans and the under-23s to manage and was chipping in when he could out at the grass, so a lot of the time it was myself and Jamie (Smith), and sometimes you need that third set of hands.

“Daft things like doing unit specific stuff and branching off into three groups.

“Mark Harrison is academy manager, he has 40 staff and 170 kids to manage. It was important we got people who could devote their time to the first team.

“The biggest plus is they both know the fabric of the club and I’ve got previous relationships with them both so it’s been seamless.”

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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