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Slaven Bilic wants right mix in West Brom's defence

By Joseph Masi | West Bromwich Albion | Published: | Last Updated:

Slaven Bilic believes in flexibility in defence as he looks to secure Albion’s first clean-sheet of the season.

Slaven Bilic

The head coach favours zonal marking – but says Albion will also man-mark when it comes to defending set-pieces.

Bilic has made an impressive start since taking charge at The Hawthorns with his side unbeaten in six Championship outings.

But they have conceded in all of their games this season – with four of the goals they have let in having come from set-pieces.

And that has led to some fans wondering why Bilic favours zonal marking over man-marking.

“We tried both in the friendly games and we also spoke to the players to get their opinions,” the head coach said.

“We are practising a lot but there is no-one ideal.

“If there was one that was better than the other we wouldn’t be talking about zonal and man-marking.

“Zonal gives you a little bit of extra security. You are covered, everyone has got their own areas.

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“But what we are trying to do is mix it up. We have a few players that are man-marking. And then you have the rest, four or five players in their zone.

“The main difference, if you are man-marking and you have six men against six men, if one of them gets beaten or falls asleep, then nobody can help him because the rest of the guys are concentrating on their man.

“Zonal, if somebody gets beaten or tricked then the other guy can help because he is also watching the ball in that zone.

“You can make it up to your team mate if they made a mistake or if the opponent was simply in a better position and took advantage.

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“That is the difference. Zonal gives the opponent a better starting position because you are free to run wherever you want.

“That’s why we are not doing man-marking and we are not doing zonal marking. We are doing both, but we didn’t invent that, most clubs do it that way.”

While Bilic admits Albion need to start keeping clean sheets, the boss has been delighted with their attacking play this season.

And he says working on tightening up a defence is a lot easier than trying to ignite an attacking spark.

The Croatian added: “You do need clean sheets. But it’s not just down to you, sometimes you have to give credit to the opponent.

“It’s never been like the Alamo though, we haven’t had to defend a lot of pressure, a lot of corners or a lot of clear-cut chances. But we do have to improve that.

“What keeps me optimistic is the things we need to improve on, we can improve on.

“As a team, it’s very hard to become creative, to become fluid, to become dangerous in the last third – but we have that.

“We have to maintain that and improve that. But the things we have to improve – to suffer and resist more as a team – we can improve.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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