Coventry defeat offers timely reminder this West Brom team is a work in progress

Coventry defeat offers timely reminder this West Brom team is a work in progress

The bubble has burst. But fear not, according to Carlos Corberan, it was always just a matter of time.

After a five-game winning streak, Coventry City handed West Bromwich Albion their first defeat since Corberan’s first game as manager against Sheffield United.

The opposition was also able to fully engage in this.

Corberan’s decision to stick with John Swift and Tom Rogic in midfield proved misguided as Coventry overran and overplayed Albion mid-park.

At times it looked like the visitors could slip away with more than a point, having sporadically become dangerous on counterattacks and set pieces, but when Viktor Gyokeres scored an added penalty to win, there were few claims of injustice from over’s travel support 4,500.

Just as these fans had begun dreaming of an unlikely promotion to the Premier League this season that seemed impossible just weeks earlier, a result and performance like this is a timely cause.

Albion are not yet a side that reliably eliminates defeated opponents like they did against Rotherham on Saturday, nor are they a side that can consistently win without playing well. They’re still a work in progress, and Corberan is well aware of that.

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“It’s necessary to have a sense of defeat,” Corberan said. “It is necessary to have perspective and to keep it. We lost a game that we wanted to win, it was a game where we almost took a point and conceded another goal to take the point, but now it’s important to feel the loss. We hate that feeling – it’s the worst feeling in football but it’s the feeling that gives you the strength to keep going.”

Still, everything Albion did in Coventry last night served Corberan’s ideas.

Although the team didn’t find execution as consistent as they did against Rotherham or in the second half of last Monday’s away win at Sunderland, the manager barked orders from his technical zone from minute one to minute 95 and his players duly performed their duties.

Okay Yokuslu, whose performance level has risen significantly in direct line with the appointment of the new head coach, delivered another solid performance in lower midfield, clinching the gap for Rogic and Swift, who were struggling to keep up with the pace and physicality of their team at Coventry -Colleagues. And Yokuslu, a Turkey international with experience in the top divisions of Spain and England and last year’s Euros, has openly admitted that Corberan owes his resurgence in form.

Older players who have not played regularly since his appointment, including captain Jake Livermore, have responded positively to his tactical acumen and motivating qualities. Younger players have welcomed the return of individual chats to discuss personal development programs and regular advice on how to improve and force their way into the first team, while club staff privately note the optimism and energy he has brought back to training Floor. Those close to Corberan believe a bump in the road was inevitable and their arrival doesn’t alter the positive trajectory.

With the club’s position when he took the job, he is concerned about what has happened in the past, not the future. He saw a team full of Premier League and international pedigrees collapse under Steve Bruce, winning once in 13 games and slipping to the bottom of the table. If the players focus on the process instilled in them by first-team coaches on the training ground, the future should take care of itself, but Albion can stake their claim to late promotion with the mentality shown in the opening quarter of the season will not reach.

“The demands of the championship make it impossible to relax,” said Corberan. “With the team at the bottom you feel like the players have suffered a lot and when you have that pain I think it’s positive because you don’t want that feeling again. We are fighting against this situation, which is uncomfortable for everyone.”

Perhaps more than anything, Albion needs to hit the brakes. It’s still a club struggling financially as uncertainty over the planned December 31 Wisdom Smart Corporation loan repayment casts a dark cloud over the Hawthorns, and it’s only been seven games since that the club at the end of the championship sat table. This team under Corberan is not invincible – there are several gaps and imbalances that he needs time to fix.

But the players are heading in the right direction again. Led by a savvy coach with a burning desire to put the Hawthorns back in a winning spirit, Chief Executive Ron Gourlay has appointed a character who can take the club back to where it wants to be. But as Corberan will tell you himself, a revolution takes time.

(Photo: Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images)

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