Monday 17 December 2018

Pressure mounts on Pardew as Saints add to Baggies' week of woe

West Bromwich Albion 1 Southampton 2

Southampton's Dusan Tadic scores his side's second goal of the game. Photo: PA
Southampton's Dusan Tadic scores his side's second goal of the game. Photo: PA

Peter Lansley

If this proves to be the game when the taxi for Alan Pardew is called, then West Brom's senior players must share culpability. The Albion manager admitted beforehand that his job security was weak after Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Boaz Myhill and Jake Livermore broke a curfew on a team-bonding trip to Barcelona at 5.30am on Thursday to appropriate the taxi that had taken them to a fast food outlet. So losing at home to Southampton for the second time in a fortnight, to depart the FA Cup, only undermines Pardew's position.

In a week when chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman departed, the latter's replacement Mark Jenkins effectively admitted he was coming in on a hiding to nothing. "It would be foolish to admit anything other than the fact that we are in a turbulent period," he wrote in his programme notes.

Jay Rodriguez and Jonny Evans of West Bromwich Albion look dejected. Photo: Getty Images
Jay Rodriguez and Jonny Evans of West Bromwich Albion look dejected. Photo: Getty Images

West Brom, seven points adrift of safety in the Premier League, have only won once in 25 league games either side of Pardew replacing Tony Pulis in the dugout.

Southampton's run is almost as bad, with their only win in 14 league games coming at the Hawthorns recently. At least they have a place in the Cup quarter-final to encourage them in their battle to stay up.

Albion's tumultuous week went from bad to worse as they went behind in the 11th minute. Quite what Pulis would have made of the defensive organisation from Southampton's corners can only be imagined but when James Ward-Prowse's kick came across, the unmarked Wesley Hoedt had the simplest of tasks to volley home from six yards.

Then Ben Foster had to make a brilliant save when another corner flashed across the face of goal and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg shot from point-blank range.

Ahmed El-Sayed Hegazi of West Bromwich Albion headers the ball. Photo: Getty Images
Ahmed El-Sayed Hegazi of West Bromwich Albion headers the ball. Photo: Getty Images

Although James McClean dispatched a fierce effort just wide, West Brom did not muster a shot on target in the first period.

Although they came out with more aggressive intent in the second period, with Jay Rodriguez capitalising on a mistake to go through on goal and force a save from Alex McCarthy, the home side found themselves 2-0 down in the 56th minute. McCarthy had produced further good saves from Gareth McAuley's downward header and Grzegorz Krychowiak's deflected shot before Southampton broke with alacrity, recent £19m signing Guido Carrillo crossing for Dusan Tadic to make the most of Krychowiak's botched clearance attempt and produce a cute finish from the edge of the penalty area.

It was at this stage Albion finally reacted. As if aware things could hardly get any worse, the pressure was off. So when Krychowiak floated a diagonal cross towards the left edge of the penalty area, Salomón Rondón relaxed his body shape and, on the run, unleashed a spectacular left-footed volley into the net. The angle was less acute than when Marco Van Basten scored in the 1988 European Championship final, but there were similarities.

Albion huffed and puffed with more vigour after this point, with Ahmed Hegazi having one close-range effort saved by McCarthy and another bounce up against the crossbar before Rondón's follow-up was cleared off the line by Ryan Bertrand, but Southampton had already done enough damage to deserve their place in the quarter-finals.

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