Valerien Ismael: West Brom will learn from two lacklustre games

Boss Valerien Ismael has vowed Albion will learn from their underwhelming displays against both Peterborough and Millwall.

Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)
Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

The Baggies put in a string of impressive displays in their opening four Championship matches of the season – with Ismael’s side creating a hatful of chances against Bournemouth, Luton, Sheffield United and Blackburn.

But against Peterborough and Millwall they haven’t looked anywhere near as dangerous with both teams finding a way to deal with Albion’s ‘vertical’ style of play.

At London Road the Baggies got away with it thanks to a 94th-minute winner from Semi Ajayi.

And while their draw at home to Millwall sent them top of the Championship, both Ismael and supporters left the ground acknowledging Albion need a ‘Plan B’ if they are to break down teams who sit back and defend in numbers.

“We need to adapt, we need to make sure we’re more flexible in our way to play,” the boss said. “We will face a lot of similar games throughout the season.

“Opponents will come here, not want to take any risks, take the intensity out of the game and take time off the clock.

“It’s a learning situation for us. We need to make sure that we keep the intensity going, keep the pressure on and put the ball in the box in areas we can hurt the opponents.

“That is the way we have to play in the future when the opponent comes here and just wants a fight.”

While in the stands it looked as though things weren’t clicking for Albion’s forward’s against Millwall, Ismael said it was actually at the back where they struggled.

“The big difference is we made too many mistakes in the backline – especially with the back passes to the keeper,” the boss continued. “It put us in danger and we gave the opponent the feeling they could come back into the game.

“They got corners, free-kicks, throw-ins. And you know against Millwall that is a massive part of their game, you need to avoid that but we made too many mistakes.

“We will learn from this and adjust but we need to put in more energy to address that intensity.

“We have to be more ruthless in our backline – that was our strength in the first five games so we need to get back to that and dominate our opponent.”

Ismael made a controversial change at half-time against Millwall with Jordan Hugill replacing Grady Diangana.

Diangana had arguably been Albion’s best player in the opening 45 minutes with his direct running causing the visitor’s problems.

Ismael, though, felt the Baggies needed a more physical presence in their attack.

“It was tactical,” the boss said when asked about the change. “I said to Grady it was nothing against him but we needed more bodies on the pitch.

“Jordan did brilliantly. This is exactly what I said. We need to adapt.

“We need to make sure we’re more flexible in our way to play.

“We needed to put more pressure on the centre-back and at some points in the second half we had great situations through Jordan when we could score.

“This is what we wanted, to be adaptable, to change the situation, to switch the momentum from the opponent and to put more intensity in the second half, to play more quickly and have higher standards.”

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