Blackpool v West Brom: Baggies need a win and a performance at Seasiders

It’s a game where there are more than just points at stake.

Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Albion travel to take on Blackpool tonight knowing they need to end a run that has seen them lose their last four away games.

But while a result is imperative – the manner in which they go about getting one is also important.

Valerien Ismael’s style of play has divided supporters now for a number of months.

But Saturday’s defeat at Huddersfield felt like another turning point – with the Frenchman coming in for some very heavy criticism.

It is the predictability of Albion under the 46-year-old – as well as some poor recent results – that is giving fans cause for concern.

Supporters know their team is going to line-up in a 3-4-3 system.

They know they are going to play with a high defensive line.

They know the three forward players are going to be narrow – with the wing-backs tasked with supplying the team width.

They even know at what point the manager will make his substitutions – with the boss always changing at least one of his attackers on the hour mark.

That predictability has led to many fans believing Albion are too easy to play against – that it is too easy for the opposition to come up with an effective game plan.

Ismael, though, is absolutely adamant all the answers can be found in his 3-4-3 formation.

He believes, if the players consistently do their jobs right, they will win a lot more games than they draw or lose.

His job, now though, is to get the fans believing that as well.

The Baggies have won three, drawn one and lost four of their last eight games.

And two of those three wins were narrow 1-0 victories over Birmingham and Hull at The Hawthorns.

The truth is – bar excellent performances against Cardiff and Bristol City – it feels as if Albion have been putting in average performances for quite a while. And while that continues, you can’t help but feel results will continue to be indifferent.

Albion not only need a result at Blackpool tonight, they need to then back up it against Forest on Friday and Coventry next week.

Despite what you may read on social media, fans don’t want to see Ismael sacked.

But they do want to have their faith in the manager and this group of players restored.

One thing the boss has to get right tonight is who to pick in his forward line.

Grady Diangana, Matt Phillips and Karlan Grant all underperformed at the John Smith’s Stadium.

And that means Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson are both pushing for recalls.

Ismael will be without Jake Livermore at Bloomfield Road – with Albion’s appeal against the skipper’s red card at Huddersfield proving unsuccessful.

Jayson Molumby and Robert Snodgrass will compete to replace him in midfield – with Molumby likely to get the nod.

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