Carlos Corberan would have been keen to build upon his first victory as manager of West Bromwich Albion in midweek, and a fine win on the road today against promotion-chasing Queens Park Rangers certainly came as a surprise considering the Baggies’ position in the relegation zone.
In a game where he started without a recognised striker, it was clear that the Spaniard had a gameplan which relied upon blistering speed on the break. This was applied with Matt Phillips, Grady Diangana and Jed Wallace all starting in a front three.
Whilst none of them exerted their offensive will on the home side, it was the creative presence just behind them which truly stole the show.
John Swift, who has been the Baggies’ highest-rated player so far this term, continued to shine under the new manager with a display worthy of winning any match.
Although the headlines may go to goalscorer and clean sheet holder Kyle Bartley, who did boast the highest SofaScore rating of the match, the unsung heroics of the 27-year-old were instrumental in their victory. His rating of 7.6 was not far behind the match-winner.
Without a target man to hit for large parts of the game, at times the midfielder was starved of the ball. When he did get it, though, there was a pinpoint accuracy which at times left Michael Beale’s side helpless.
With his 56 touches, he managed to complete an exceptional five key passes, creating one big chance which won them the game as his wicked delivery was met by Bartley. To further showcase his influence and accuracy, he also recorded six completed crosses alongside an 80% pass accuracy.
Swift offered a steady pair of legs alongside the more defensive-minded Okay Yokusly and Jayson Molumby, who was more than happy to dig in when his team required it. This was outlined in his 15 duels in which he competed, while he even recorded one clearance and one tackle.
It was the quintessential all-round performance that Corberan needed to drag his team through this game, and West Brom are finally seeing flashes of the man who former Reading manager Veljko Paunovic dubbed “super talented”.
Swift went somewhat under the radar today but stepped up to quietly be the star of the show at Loftus Road.