West Bromwich Albion wing-back Conor Townsend struck a calm tone as he talked about his side’s current situation, saying their position doesn’t matter that much to Birmingham Live.
Albion currently find themselves in fourth place after dropping points once again on Friday night against Barnsley, with in-form side Blackburn Rovers taking advantage of this slip-up to leapfrog the Baggies as they recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.
Friday evening’s match at Oakwell summed up Valerien Ismael’s side’s season thus far, creating chances to break the deadlock but failing to be clinical enough in the final third as they fell to another draw, going winless in five of their last seven matches.
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They have recorded eight draws already in the second tier this term, the most of any team in the top 11 of the Championship at this stage and has become a sore point of Ismael’s tenure as they failed to capitalise on slip-ups by top-two sides Fulham and AFC Bournemouth in recent days.
Coming into their last match against Barnsley off the back of consecutive wins against Coventry City and Reading, they were hot favourites to take all three points again with the likes of Townsend, Semi Ajayi, Matt Clarke and Cedric Kipre all returning from their Covid isolation periods.
But their failure to do so has been costly as they now find themselves behind Blackburn.
One man that isn’t worried about this is 28-year-old Townsend though, who said: “We had it when we went up [during 2019/20]. We were eight clear, nine clear, at this stage of the season. In my opinion I don’t think it matters that much at the minute.
“Obviously we’d rather be there, but two or three – even five or six – points is nothing in this league when the games come thick and fast. It’s all about being in and around it come March time when the run-in really starts.
“There are a lot of games to be played between now and March, and we can really set ourselves up for a good run-in.”
Whoever can be the most consistent at the top of the league will win automatic promotion – and the form of Fulham and Bournemouth before their slump showcased that.
The pair previously looked set to pull away from the rest of the division after managing to maximise their respective points tallies – but the fact they have slipped up in recent games should provide the Baggies with real optimism and extra motivation as 2022 approaches.
Ismael’s side are still within touching distance of the top two so they shouldn’t be too concerned at this stage, but the fact they have failed to turn draws into wins for much of the campaign is a worry and it shows the need for a clinical goalscorer in January.
However, the Baggies cannot afford to coast along until they recruit that main striker, because they will fall further and further away from the automatic promotion spots in the next few weeks unless they can start to put their chances away.
And they already have players that can score for fun in the Championship. Karlan Grant has stepped up well this term, but Callum Robinson, Jordan Hugill, Matt Phillips and Grady Diangana need to be doing more in the final third to guide their current side to success.