Steve Bruce’s West Bromwich Albion side once again failed to record their first win under the management of the 61-year-old head coach on Tuesday night, with Middlesbrough running out 2-1 victors at the Riverside Stadium.
The result comes as a huge blow to the Baggies’ play-off hopes, with Albion remaining down in 11th place in the Championship standings, now six points behind Tuesday’s opposition – who occupy sixth.
In terms of the performance, there was a slight improvement from the 2-0 loss to Luton Town last weekend, namely as West Brom did manage to end their five-game run of failing to find the back of the net, however, the overall display was certainly not one of a side who look as if they will mount a promotion push over the remainder of the season.
Indeed, left-back Conor Townsend endured a torrid evening up against the Boro right wing-back Isaiah Jones, Adam Reach was extremely sloppy in possession in the middle of the park and Karlan Grant was anonymous on the left of the Baggies front three.
However, it will undoubtedly be the latter of this trio most disappointed with his performance at Riverside, as the 24-year-old was once again unable to drag himself out of an extremely poor run of form that has now lasted six games.
Despite having returned to a more familiar role on the left of a three-man attack against Boro – a position from which the forward has bagged all of his ten Championship goals this season – Grant struggled to make any real impact on the game whatsoever on Tuesday night.
Indeed, over the course of his 90 minutes on the pitch, the £7.2m-rated forward enjoyed just 29 touches of the ball – the lowest of any Albion player who started the match, including Sam Johnstone – completed a mere 12 of his 17 attempted passes, failed to hit the target with either of his two shots at the Boro goal and was beaten by an opponent once.
The £20k-per-week centre-forward – who Joseph Masi dubbed “shocking” against Luton last time out – also lost six of his nine duels, committed one foul and ceded possession of the ball on ten separate occasions – meaning he lost the ball with every 2.9 touches.
These returns, rather unsurprisingly, saw the 24-year-old receive an extremely disappointing SofaScore match rating of just 6.2, while Birmingham Live’s Joseph Chapman awarded the striker a three in his own player ratings, as well as stating of Grant’s display:
“Pretty non-existent again. The club’s top scorer has seen his goals dry up, but he’s not been without his half chances recently. Here, he had practically no bearing on Albion’s attacking play and should’ve done much better when he did have those small openings.”
As such, with the Baggies appearing to struggle just as much under the management of Bruce as they did under the leadership of Valerien Ismael, the fact that the club’s top scorer this season now seems incapable of hitting a barn door with a banjo is certainly costing the 61-year-old dearly.