West Brom’s shocking run of form continued on Saturday evening as Newcastle United piled more pressure on struggling Albion boss Slaven Bilic.
According to reports in the build-up to this weekend’s crunch match at St James’ Park, the Croatian is facing an unlikely future in the Midlands and that defeat may have not done him many favours at all.
The home side took the lead inside 20 seconds when Miguel Almiron was given acres of space inside the penalty area and Darnell Furlong’s half-volley equaliser five minutes after the break wasn’t enough to stop former Baggies loan star Dwight Gayle late on.
He nipped in past Branislav Ivanovic to head home the winner just five minutes from time, sending West Brom back to the Hawthorns with an eighth defeat in 12.
Some may look to the enigmatic right-back for one positive from the match, but instead, attention should turn his fellow defender, young Dara O’Shea, who performed immensely out of position.
No player in the game was more involved than the Irishman, managing a whopping 90 touches, that’s one per minute, via SofaScore.
The 21-year-old also did his defensive duties, recording three clearances, two tackles, one interception and one block, as well as winning nine duels and making 53 of 69 passing attempts.
It was just his sixth-ever start in the Premier League, which makes it all that more impressive and had Albion come away with a draw in the north-east, then he would have rightly been picked out as a Man of the Match contender.
Aside from bringing the Baggies back to the top-flight, O’Shea is someone that Bilic should be lauded for as he first introduced him into the senior set-up last term – he even went as far as dubbing him “the future” of the club in one interview.
The “exceptional” beast deserves to keep his place amongst the starting XI, even when usual first-choice Kyle Bartley returns. He was the one shining light yesterday afternoon.