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Kevin Phillips questions Neil Warnock stance following West Brom criticism

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Former West Bromwich Albion forward Kevin Phillips has defended his former side from Neil Warnock’s criticism over their style of play, saying that the Baggies ‘battered’ Middlesbrough when the two sides met earlier this month in an interview with West Brom News.

72-year-old Warnock, who left the club just hours after their 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns, stated on talkSPORT that even his side played ‘more football’ than Valerien Ismael’s men on the day amid previous criticisms of the Frenchman’s direct style of play.

The former Boro boss has been known for the direct nature of his own philosophy over the years, adopting an unattractive but effective way of playing as he won several promotions at the helm of the likes of Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers and Cardiff City, guiding all three to the Premier League at different points in his career.

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His side came within 45 minutes of winning all three points in the West Midlands against the odds, taking the lead through Josh Coburn in the 38th minute but unable to secure the three points, conceding midway through the second half as Grady Diangana grabbed his first goal of the season.

Although this result was underwhelming for a West Brom side that lost ground on the top two after seeing AFC Bournemouth and Fulham pick up maximum points in their respective fixtures, Ismael’s style of play has been the subject of criticism from some people even before this match, with some of the dissent coming from a section of the club’s own fans.

But in defence of the Frenchman and his former side, ex-Baggie Phillips believes they dominated Boro throughout the game as he said to West Brom News: “At the end of the day, it’s Neil Warnock, isn’t it? He’s going to go out and say what he feels but when you look at it, West Brom completely battered them.

“In possession, 72 per cent to 28 per cent, had more shots, more shots on targets and more corners so I’m not sure where he’s got that from.

“But that’s Neil Warnock and maybe he knew then that he was going to be walking so he had a little parting shot.”

The Verdict:

Although the style of play has been a big talking point, getting around teams who set up to frustrate the West Midlands outfit seems to be their main problem at this stage and in fairness, it could be argued that their way of playing has contributed to that.

What the Baggies clearly have is an unashamedly direct way of playing and a set identity under the 45-year-old – but they arguably have the quality to play a passing-based brand of football as a recently relegated side that have retained most of their squad from their Premier League days.

Playing good football whilst still operating with three in central defence is still a possibility – and a tweak in the system to play a more attractive system could give them the unpredictability needed to start picking up maximum points regularly and with that, capitalise on slip-ups from Bournemouth and Fulham.

As Phillips picked up on though, they did have a huge amount of possession during their clash with the Teesside club and showed intent with more shots, more shots on target and more corners.

Only one statistic matters at the end of the season though – and that’s the number of points they pick up between now and the end of the season. Criticism of Ismael’s philosophy will be forgotten about if he can guide them to promotion – but whether he can do that remains to be seen.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Kevin Phillips questions Neil Warnock stance following West Brom criticism

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