Well, Slaven Bilic’s job at West Brom just got a whole lot harder and if reports are to be believed, this latest blow will do his future at the Hawthorns no favours at all.
According to the Telegraph’s John Percy, the Croatian is fighting to keep his job going into this weekend’s crunch match with Newcastle United and it is thought that another embarrassment in the Premier League could see the Albion hierarchy finally pull the trigger.
And the Baggies’ chances up at St James’ Park have taken a major dent after Matheus Pereira’s suspension was upheld after appeal.
The 24-year-old enigma was sent off in the 34th minute of Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace after appearing to kick out at Patrick van Aanholt when going down under a challenge.
Referee Paul Tierney initially handed him a yellow card before VAR encouraged him to overturn his decision by checking the monitor. After one glance, he upgraded his decision to a red.
Now, Bilic is without Pereira for the next three games. Not good when you’re fighting to keep your job without your biggest star.
The £11.7m-rated attacking midfielder, who earns around £30k-per-week in the west Midlands, is one of Albion’s most influential players – last season, he delivered eight goals and 20 assists on their way to clinching promotion.
And this term, in ten appearances, the Brazilian sensation has already contributed to three goals whilst averaging 2.3 key passes, 1.7 shots and 1.6 dribbles per game, via WhoScored.
No other member of the Baggies squad is managing even half the number of key passes of Pereira whilst he also tops the charts for dribbles and shots, so evidently, there will now be a massive void to fill. An almost irreplaceable one at that.
Sky Sports pundit Keith Andrews named him as his Player of the Year last season, claiming: “I’m going to go for Pereira because I have been blown away by his skill, his ability on the ball, the way he takes the game to the opposition and the vision he has. He is such an all-round attacking player and isn’t just one type of No 10. I think he is at his best in the centre, but we have seen him play from the right and the left, too.”
Whilst Portuguese football journalist Tom Kundert labelled Pereira an “absolute steal” at the time of his initial arrival at the Hawthorns.
Indeed, Bilic could suffer greatly from this devastating decision. If not now, then against Man City or arch-rivals Aston Villa. This is potentially his biggest nightmare since taking the helm at the Baggies.
AND in other news, Exclusive: Pundit questions West Brom’s potential £150m takeover…