Valerien Ismael certainly came across as more upbeat despite seeing his West Brom side held by stubborn Derby County.
The Frenchman was happy to point out that his side wasn’t reaching the levels of performance he expects, following the draw with Millwall over the weekend, a point which on the balance of play and chances created they were fortunate to pick up.
Against the Rams, though,. The xG, the total shots, the shots on target, the possession.
The problem for Albion is the last stat. They don’t really want the ball. It doesn’t help them in their pressing approach to games. They’d rather chase, pin back their opponents and pen them in, rather than break them down.
There are signs that sides – particularly at The Hawthorns – are growing wise to such a plan, and are willing to give Albion the ball and challenge them to break through.
Derby most certainly did, but while Albion were especially poor against the Lions, they were more unfortunate against Wayne Rooney’s Rams, against who they created a number of openings but couldn’t find a way past Kelle Roos in goal.
Still, Ismael saw improvements in the second 45 after a rather wretched first half showing and once again identified that Derby won’t be the last to trouble Albion with such a set-up.
“We put in the intensity and the energy to change the game,” Ismael said. “We had so many chances to score – 26 shots, nine on target and we didn’t concede any shots or chances from the opponent, so we have to score.
“From the Millwall game, this was a step ahead. We were more clinical, we were more on the front foot and it was more on our side.
“Now you will recognise there is a clear trend against us. After five games you have a clear picture of West Brom and after the international break, the opponent comes here and doesn’t want to play football against us.
“They had one point before the game and they just wanted to fight for that point. They didn’t want to take any risks. We have to adapt. If we’d have got the breakthrough it would have been easier but the longer it stays at 0-0, the opponent will take a point away.
“For sure it is frustrating for us. We wanted more, but the season is long and we will learn about the opponent. It’s clear something is going on against us that we need to adapt to.”
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