Slaven Bilic’s Baggies fall to their fourth defeat of the season after a lackluster performance, losing 2-0 away at Craven Cottage. Bilic and the board are attempting to put their spat over the sale of Ahmed Hegazi behind them but with performances like that, his future will be mooted among fans on social media.
The Baggies started the game fairly brightly and aggressively. This comes as no surprise given how desperate Bilic and his men will have been to get their first three points of the season.
Fulham slowly made their way back into the game and broke the deadlock 26 minutes in with a powerful header from Bobby Cordova-Reid.
It became two goals in five minutes for the hosts then, with a lovely bit of play from Alexander Mitrovic to set up Ola Aina, who finished marvellously from outside the box.Embed from Getty Images
It was a woeful first half from the Baggies: loose balls, misfired shots, losing duels – everything you would maybe expect from a Championship side, and by no means a Premier League side fighting for their lives.
Conor Gallagher was a usual bright-spark in midfield and almost set up Karlan Grant after a Fulham loose-ball, but the former Huddersfield striker fired just wide with his left foot.
Bilic looked how every Albion fan felt going off at half time, and tried to change things 10 minutes into the second half. Birthday boy Romaine Sawyers came on for skipper Jake Livermore, while an unusually poor Matheus Pereira made way for Callum Robinson.Embed from Getty Images
Nothing improved though – in fact, Fulham continued to dominate and could have gone 3-0 up with clever play from Tom Cairney and Ademola Lookman.
Bilic’s final gamble saw Filip Krovinovic come off for Matt Phillips – given that he has not scored since January and has not been playing well either, you really do wonder what Bilic thought Phillips could do.
Of course, given everything that happened surrounding the sale of Hegazi, this performance – and Bilic’s selection – will be hyper-scrutinised. And no wonder. With a physical Mitrovic up front, akin to the physique of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, would he have been the difference?
Albion have won one game in 14, and Bilic does not seem to have any answers. I am by no means calling for his head, but the board did the best it could with a depleted transfer budget. Luke Dowling and his team managed to re-sign all of last season’s loans, which was a must for Bilic, as well as his main striker target Grant.
Take no credit away from Scott Parker and Fulham. They looked like a Premier League side tonight, oozing with confidence and fight. After similarly poor starts to the season, Fulham deserved this one.Embed from Getty Images
There are signs of life in this team. Conor Townsend and Semi Ajayi put their bodies on the line to stop a third goal for Fulham – they still have fight in them.
But after such a positive second half performance against Brighton, you do really wonder how many more times we are going to keep saying this. Something has to change, and fast.