West Brom boss Slaven Bilic heads into this weekend’s Premier League crunch match against Newcastle United with plenty to ponder.
Emerging reports suggest that another defeat could be curtains for his time at the Hawthorns and he’ll need to steer the Baggies to victory without their influential star man, Matheus Pereira.
The 24-year-old’s three-match suspension has been upheld following an appeal after the attacking midfielder appeared to kick out at Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt last weekend.
Referee Paul Tierney initially only gave Pereira a yellow before upgrading his decision after influence from VAR.
As we explained here earlier this week, it’ll be a major blow to Bilic’s chances of pulling off a result up at St James’ Park as no other player in the Albion squad is averaging more key passes, dribbles or shots than he is.
There are a few options for Bilic to now consider, especially with skipper Jack Livermore back in contention. He could bring him straight back in and push Conor Gallagher further forward – or even hand a start to Filip Krovinovic.
Although, instead, he ought to turn to Grady Diangana, who has struggled for game time in recent weeks due to the change in system.
Indeed, the £10.8m-rated winger has played just 45 minutes in their last two outings in the top-flight. He was the makeweight for Krovinovic at half-time against Palace, though its time to fit him in properly and give him a fair opportunity to impress.
One goal all season isn’t a good look either, so Bilic could well tee it up as a ‘final chance’ and that should ultimately kick last season’s loan sensation into gear.
On the Baggies’ way to promotion, Diangana scored eight goals and provided six assists whilst averaging 2.4 dribbles, 1.6 shots and 1.4 key passes per appearance, via WhoScored.
This is a player who was once described as an “explosive” attacker and a “total nightmare” to defend against. Even West Brom legend Carlton Palmer told FFC exclusively that he’s a “fantastic talent” who “might be worth £40m+” one day.
Bilic needs to get the best back out of the £20k-per-week superstar and there’s not a better time to do so with Pereira out for the next three matches. Impress in these and it’s Diangana’s spot to lose, don’t, and he could well be looking out from the bench a lot more.