West Brom finally feel transfer benefit but Carlos Corberan declares his intention to the board

West Brom finally feel transfer benefit but Carlos Corberan declares his intention to the board

The talking points from The Hawthorns as West Brom eventually topple Middlesbrough

West Brom secured their second home victory at the start of the new Championship season as they eventually prevailed 4-2 against ten-man Middlesbrough on a breathless afternoon at The Hawthorns.


West Brom stormed ahead in a frantic first half thanks to fine finishes from both Cedric Kipre and John Swift, but their familiar lapse after scoring struck again and Boro replied a minute later through Emmanuel Latte Lath.


Albion struck quickly in the second period through Brandon Thomas-Asante when he seized upon a Middlesbrough defensive error for his third goal of the season, before Tommy Smith was shown his marching orders for the visitors. Ex-Baggie Marcus Forss did convert a late penalty, but the Baggies made sure of the points when Brighton loanee Jeremy Sarmiento struck in stoppage time – his first goal for the club. Here are the talking points.

Football is an art
Corberan described the sport we all love and are involved in as ‘rich’ and ‘amazing’ – so much so that only to play long ball football would be a waste of what can be achieved if you are brave and take risks. Corberan encourages his team to build attacks from deep, to invite the aggression of the press from the opponent onto them and then to play their way through that.


On a number of occasions on Saturday, and indeed throughout the early stages of this season, there were clear examples of that. Take Swift’s goal, for example, which began at the back with Kipre, who played between the lines to find Jayson Molumby and who in turn fed Swift. He did the rest.

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There will, of course, be heart-in-mouth moments. Albion are not Manchester City. Those nerves are vindicated after the opening weekend of the season, when clear mistakes were made, but this – despite conceding two more goals – was a step in the right direction, particularly in the case of Kipre on an individual level.

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Leader of the line

Prior to Josh Maja’s signing earlier this summer, there was plenty made of Albion’s need to source goals in the transfer window. Having lost Daryl Dike to injury, they wouldn’t be able to rely on him for about half of this season. This was on the back of a pretty lean collective effort last year – 59 in their 46 league games, not an awful lot by Albion’s Championship standards – of which Thomas-Asante contributed a number without reaching double figures.


Maja is yet to get fully up to speed, and that will come, hopefully on the other side of the forthcoming international break. In the meantime, Albion require goals from elsewhere – and they’ve begun in a strong vein. Swift has a couple, the defenders have chipped in, while Phillips and Sarmiento have one apiece, too – but a word for Thomas-Asante.


While Maja builds up those levels, and in the absence of Dike, the striker has stepped up. He was excellent here and led the line terrifically, and fully merited his goal which was opportune but still took some converting with a calm head – that’s three in three now.


Off the mark

It’s taken until the end of August, but Albion finally felt the benefit of the transfer window on the pitch on Saturday. While Kipre is to all intents and purposes a ‘new signing’ to Corberan, Albion of course only have a couple of new faces through the door to date – with any luck that number will have at least doubled by Friday.


Neither Sarmiento or Maja have been deemed ready to start any games just yet, though, so Corberan has by and large been working with the same group of players who he inherited from Steve Bruce when appointed last October. On Saturday, though, the first goal contribution from a new signing occurred.


Corberan admitted post match that Sarmiento’s excellent finish late on masked what he thought had been an otherwise poor cameo, but he very much likes his willingness to improve and learn. While the impact from the bench to sew the points up was timely, you’d think that Sarmiento will be targeting starts soon – once he’s proven to Corberan he’s ready to.


A big week ahead

Corberan didn’t under-egg the importance of the coming week – the final week of the transfer window. While there is obvious mitigation, Albion have been among the quietest of all 92 league clubs when it comes to incoming business conducted this summer. Corberan signed off from his post-match press conference here, though, with the rather ominous reply: “I think our future in the competition depends a lot on this week.”


Corberan wants a full-back who is able to play as a wing-back, likely to be on the right hand side if he thinks Phillips and Conor Townsend can cover the left hand side, as well as another playmaking option in the final third. Albion are light behind the striker beyond Swift, after the exits of Tom Rogic and Taylor Gardner-Hickman.


He also indicated that any player who leaves from now on, after Gardner-Hickman on Tuesday, must be replaced. Loans will be the order of the day, from the Premier League, although the free agent market is still being considered. It could be a crazy final week after all – just as Corberan predicted it might be.

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