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Analysis: Things will get better when West Brom players return insists Valerian Ismael

Valerien Ismael has promised things will get better when Albion are able to call on more of their key players.

Charlie Austin of Queens Park Rangers scores a goal to make it 1-0 during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Charlie Austin of Queens Park Rangers scores a goal to make it 1-0 during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

But there is no doubt things have to improve quickly because their form is dreadful and their hopes of automatic promotion rapidly diminishing.

The Baggies have won just two of their last 10 Championship games.

In those 10 matches, they have scored just five goals.

And they are now holding on to a play-off spot by just a point following this 1-0 loss at QPR.

It should be inconceivable that Ismael’s men finish outside the top six this season.

The Championship is weak this year, largely due to financial disruption caused by Covid-19.

And Albion have the benefit of parachute payments and a squad full of players that have previously shown they are good enough to win promotion from this level.

At the moment, though, there is a worrying lack of quality when it comes to their attacking play.

They are struggling to create clear-cut chances in the final third – something that was again evident at Loftus Road.

This was a game where there really was very little to separate the two sides.

Albion started strong, with Ismael’s men squeezing the hosts back and camping in their half for the opening 30 minutes.

Jayson Molumby of West Bromwich Albion and Chris Willock of Queens Park Rangers (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

And they almost opened the scoring when Karlan Grant sent in a dangerous low cross that Matt Phillips was inches away from connecting with.

For the next 30 minutes, QPR took control with Mark Warburton’s side sending in a series of dangerous crosses that Albion’s make-shift defence coped with well.

But Ismael managed to swing the momentum back towards Albion when he introduced the man everyone wanted to see – Daryl Dike – just before the hour mark.

There is no denying the American’s 30-minute cameo was hugely impressive.

His hold-up play was excellent, his passing dangerous. He is also incredibly strong and quick.

But he can’t do everything alone. He needs support. And there was painfully little from Albion’s other attacking players.

Following the introduction of Dike – this game became like a basketball match.

You felt as though one team would win it. It was just a toss of a coin who.

But right at the end, lady luck decided to side with QPR in a two-minute spell that ultimately won the game for the hosts.

In the 87th minute, Albion looked to have won a penalty when Conor Townsend was bundled over in the box.

Referee Simon Hooper had, overall, had a good game.

But he waved play-on when he really should have blown his whistle.

And Warburton’s side won it just 120 seconds later.

It had to be former Albion striker Charlie Austin who got it – a striker who polarised opinion despite scoring some important goals during his time at The Hawthorns.

And he ghosted in at the back post to head in a cross from another former Baggie – Chris Willock.

Speaking post-match, Ismael was raging at the decision not to award his team a penalty. That decision ultimately proved the game’s big moment.

But he also vowed things will improve when more of his first-team stars return.

Daryl Dike gets past Yoann Barbet after coming off the bench for a 30-minute debut at Loftus Road on Saturday

Albion headed to London with Sam Johnstone, Cedric Kipre and Alex Mowatt suspended.

Semi Ajayi is at the African Cup of Nations, Kyle Bartley and Kean Bryan injured while Dara O’Shea has only just returned to training following surgery on a broken ankle.

Mowatt in particular was really missed here – with Albion badly lacking creativity in the middle of the park.

And Ismael said those absent players are what is holding his team back.

“It was a clear penalty – 100 per cent a penalty,” the boss said. “What can you do? Jump on the ref? It doesn’t change anything.

“At the minute we are not able at the minute to win games, to score goals and have an impact on the game when we are on top – to punish the opponent.

“The main problem is that we don’t have the best team to pick.

“You prepare all week, you try and find a solution and then it’s another player and another player.

“It was easier at the beginning when we played with all the players to just focus on the games and what we have to do.

“The mentality is good from the players. Nobody is complaining or trying to find an excuse.

“But we need our best players back. You need to be able to make an impact from the bench.

“There is a big challenge at the minute.”

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