Express & Star

Lewis Cox comment: Play-off gloom can’t hide feeling of hope at West Brom

It was a painful ending – but this is only the start for Albion under Shilen Patel and Carlos Corberan.

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Darnell Furlong(Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Just because a play-off tilt felt like a bonus after the club’s takeover this season, doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Promotion and the Premier League riches it brings would still have been welcome to sooth the rocky financial road ahead. Albion have to stabilise under Patel, that will become the first objective, but they won’t lack ambition. Minds must come together to consider show that can bring success.

A 3-1 defeat at St Mary’s hurt Corberan and his players and was not the way anybody wanted to go out.

Albion were fairly beaten. The better team handled the favourites tag, the expectancy, and won. The Baggies, when it came to hurting Southampton with the ball, did not turn up.

Corberan cut a figure of mixed emotions when addressing the media afterwards. On one hand he was irritated by pre-match logistics and failings on the hosts’ part that caused the Baggies’ team bus to be stranded outside the stadium and late.

He was further irked by Russell Martin’s suggestion that altering the advertisement hoardings pitchside was in retaliation to Albion not watering a dry Hawthorns pitch the week before.

But, when it came to his side’s defeat, he was magnanimous.

He knew Southampton had been the better team, not just on Friday night but the for the season as a whole. His Albion side battled bravely as they have come to do in more than 18 months under the Spaniard, but the Saints’ Premier League resources and calibre players were too much for a Baggies side playing down at 70 per cent.