Sunday, 6 February 2011

Why West Brom have put themselves in far more danger of being relegated due to the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo

West Brom are the Premier League’s yo-yo team. In the last 5 years they have spent three of those years in the Premier League. But this season West Brom have looked a far better Premier League side. They are a team who look comfortable with the ball and they look far more assured against their Premier League oppositions. But a potential spanner has been thrown into the works. A decision which could even see West Brom falling through the precarious trap door. Roberto Di Matteo has been sacked.

Under Di Matteo West Brom flourished. The team sailed through the Championship last season, to instantly return to the Premier League. Upon their return, West Brom started the season with good form. Okay, yes they were hammered by Chelsea in their opening game. But after that result they went on a good run. They beat Arsenal at the Emirates and are the only team this season to pick up any points from Old Trafford. They also smashed Everton by 4 goals to 1 at Goodison Park.

West Brom under Di Matteo have been far more dynamic and attacking. Something which they were lacking the last time they were in the Premier League. Furthermore, their attacking guile has made them a far more difficult opposition to beat. Di Matteo has shaped his team effectively. In Chris Brunt they have a playmaker and a competent set piece taker, who in fact has assisted 10 of West Brom goals. While in Peter Odemwingie, they have a pacey centre forward who has shown his clinical ability. Arguably, Di Matteo’s most successful acquisition is Jerome Thomas. The free transfer has been something of a revelation. Thomas has shown his brilliant pace, trickery and great distribution to assist West Brom with 6 goals. These players have been integral to everything good about West Brom this season. Di Matteo has played a crucial role in getting these players to play effectively at the Premier League level.

Di Matteo’s tactical strategy of keeping the ball and progressively going forward has made West Brom a far more competent and threatening side. Yes, there form has declined since December. But the team clearly has enough character and quality to stay up. Look at the way West Brom play, there is a strong sense of confidence and self belief in their abilties. Something which the serious relegation candidates lack.

What frustrates me so much about the sacking of Di Matteo. Is that this West Brom team are far far better than the previous West Brom sides, who have failed in the Premier League. The success of the current team is down to Roberto Di Matteo. The facts prove this too.

Season

Points

Goals Scored

Goals conceded

2004/05 (finished 17th)

34 points

36

61

2005/06 (finished 19th)

30 points

31

58

2008/09 (finished 20th)

32 points

36

67

Current season – 2010/11 – 25 games played (on 06/02/11)

26 points

31

48


The stats for this season show a telling story. West Brom have already scored the same amount as they did in the 2005/06 season. In addition to this, in the 2008/09 season under Tony Mowbray, West Brom were praised for being a relegation candidate who played ‘football’ even if it meant being relegated. Di Matteo has done the same. His strategy is also to keep the ball on the ground and play progressively. But Di Matteo has tweaked the system and made it even better. As his team are more expansive and threatening. The stats prove this too. This season West Brom have already scored 31 goals. While Mowbray’s West Brom (2008/09) scored 36. With 13 games remaining it’s very likely that West Brom will score more than 5 goals. This proves that under Di Matteo West Brom side are far more of an attacking threat.

A continuous criticism of the relegated West Brom sides were their lack of goals. Di Matteo has rectified that issue to an extent this season.

Furthermore, even though West Brom have 13 more games to play, they are only 7 points behind the 34 points (gained in the 2004/05 season) the highest earned by a West Brom side in the Premier League. And that was the season when they managed to stay in the Premier League. It’s fair to say this West Brom team will achieve more than 7 points by the end of the season. After all, it’s two wins and a draw. Thus meaning it will be the highest points tally achieved by a West Brom side in the Premier League. Something which Roberto Di Matteo has played a crucial role in.

But one must consider, that the Premier League this season has been generally far more inconsistent than previous seasons, thus meaning team’s are dropping points more often. That taken into consideration, West Brom today find themselves with a precarious 24 points. Joint with Wigan who are in 18th. West Brom are in a dangerous position. But is sacking a manager who has done far better than his predecessors the right answer?

West Brom kept strongly faithful to Tony Mowbray in the 2008/09 season, when they pathetically finished 20th. While West Brom under Roberto Di Matteo have been far more effective in terms of getting results. Yet Di Matteo finds himself out of a job? Its just crazy.

One thing football results strive on is stability. With Di Matteo they had a sytem which yes, wasn’t going through the best form, but it was a system which was accumulating more points than any other West Brom manager in the Premier League. Have the West Brom board seriously thought this through?

The fact the league is so unpredictable and inconsistent surely maintaining your playing style and management style, will help your team get results?

Roberto Di Matteo stated today ‘I was extremely surprised and disappointed to be relieved of my duties.’ I think everyone is surprised that he has been sacked. Arguably their most effective manager has been shown the door. Senseless.

West Brom’s next four games are against; West Ham (H), Wolves (H), Stoke(A) and Birmingham (A). Arguably, these are winnable games. Especially the two home games. Winning those two home games will have only move them upwards. I’m sure Di Matteo targeted the two home games as ‘vital must win games.’ And West Brom would have probably bagged 6 points against Wolves and West Ham. Who have both been woeful on the road Yet now, this shock sacking, could provide instability and see West Brom lose all of these games.

The West Brom board haven taken a risk. A risk which could seriously back fire on them. They have shown the door to a man who has given West Brom so much.

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