West Bromwich Albion winger Matt Phillips struck a calm tone in an interview with the Express and Star, as he stated the Baggies are ‘going in the right direction’ as long as they can continue to pick up points in the Championship.
These comments come after three consecutive draws for the West Midlands side since the end of the international break, winning just three points from a possible nine at home to Millwall and Derby County and on the road against Preston North End.
For a side that won four of their opening five league matches in August, with their perfect record being ruined by AFC Bournemouth in the opening day 2-2 draw at the Vitality Stadium, their recent results have been a great source of disappointment for Valerien Ismael’s side who have been leapfrogged by the Cherries and fellow promotion rivals Fulham as they now find themselves outside of the automatic promotion spots.
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The latter have already lost against Blackpool and Reading this season, but their wins in other matches and ability to avoid draws has paid dividends thus far as Marco Silva’s men keep West Brom outside of the top two on goal difference.
It may have been a disappointment to concede against Millwall and Preston this month, but it’s their lack of cutting edge in the final third that has proved to be the most costly and could leave them lagging further behind their rivals in their quest to return to the Premier League, if they fail to rectify this problem soon.
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Phillips is one player who has struggled in recent matches, recording just one goal contribution in their three recent league games, but seems relaxed about his side’s current form.
Speaking to the Express and Star, the 30-year-old said: “We have been in the Championship before and there is always going to be that point in a season where you don’t get the wins you deserve.
“If this is our sticky patch – as long as we continue to pick up points – then we are going in the right direction. It’s the old saying – the Championship is a marathon not a sprint.
“If this is our blip then we are playing some good stuff and creating lots of chances.
“And we are limiting the opposition to very few.
“Eventually, we are going to start to taking those chances and getting three points on the board.”
You can partially understand why Matt Phillips sounds so relaxed. Firstly, panicking would only makes things worse. But secondly, they have plenty of goalscorers around the pitch who can all chip in and make an impact.
Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant and Jordan Hugill look set to be the three obvious main goalscorers for the Baggies, but the likes of Phillips, Alex Mowatt, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi will also prove to be a threat, with the latter two particularly dangerous from corners in the absence of Dara O’Shea.
However, you do feel as though they were missing one or two more players in the attacking department. A star striker would have been particularly useful with loanee Jordan Hugill only managing to get on the scoresheet four times in 31 Championship appearances for promotion-winning side Norwich City last term.
But the Baggies’ board seem to be reluctant to fork out on a player like Daryl Dike, even on loan, despite selling former star Matheus Pereira to Al-Hilal in the summer who would have commanded a sizeable fee and potentially been on a generous salary.
What is certain is the fact they need to turn draws into wins. If they can’t, it will cost them an automatic promotion spot – there’s no doubt about it.