Pardew admits ‘galling’ late defeat all but seals West Brom’s relegation
West Bromwich Albion have grown accustomed to losing, but judging by the utterly distraught demeanour of manager Alan Pardew, this felt most sickening of all of their eight straight defeats.
“It’s galling,” he simply said after seeing his team hold a deserved lead until the 77th minute but just as the words “great escape” were being optimistically murmured in the away end, Bournemouth struck twice and cleared off the line in a dramatic finale.
It was a win that virtually guarantees their Premier League status for a fourth season and surely also leaves West Brom without any realistic chance of recovery.
The gap to West Ham United in 17th is now 10 points with seven matches left, and having lost 24 points already this season from winning positions, even Pardew struggled to make a case for their survival.
“It is getting near the last chance saloon,” he said. Asked if the gap was now too wide, he added: “If you look at our record since the start of the year, you have to say yes. We have to battle on. That could easily have been a win.”
The sheer hopelessness of the situation seems now to mean that Pardew will not be replaced before the end of the season despite a desperate record of just one league win since he was appointed in November. He had clarified his position before the match with the club’s owners, and while Leicester City assistant Michael Appleton is understood to be a summer option, an immediate change is unlikely.
Pardew also denied the existence of a break clause this summer that would allow him to be replaced without compensation after relegation.
“I’ve a contract for another three years and have to keep fighting and showing pride. That is what I am going to do,” he said.
With Paris St Germain’s on-loan midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak only among the substitutes after being fined for his response to being taken off last Pardew’s players certainly performed like they fully support him. “Wake them up, Eddie,” shouted one Bournemouth fan in the direction of manager Eddie Howe as the first-half ended, and West Brom were rewarded for their positive approach within four minutes of the re-start.
Kieran Gibbs delivered an excellent cross to the far post, Salomon Rondon rose to head back across the six-yard area and Jay Rodriguez turned in front of Steve Cook before shooting past Asmir Begovic.
The goal did rouse Bournemouth, but with West Brom defending deeply, they struggled to translate possession into clear chances.
They were gifted a route back into the game when Jordon Ibe cut inside, and the bounce on his relatively tame but dipping shot was badly misjudged by goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Still West Brom retreated, and when Craig Dawson fouled Josh King in the 89th minute, Stanislas sent the free kick over the wall in aiming for the top left corner, and having got sufficient dip on his shot, Foster was unable to recover his ground.
West Brom substitute Matt Phillips did then have an injury-time header cleared off the line by Charlie Daniels but, having again absorbed so much self-inflicted damage, the wider task already looks futile.
Bournemouth 4-4-2 Begovic 6; Francis 6 (Daniels, 17), Cook 6, Ake 6, Smith 6 (Mousset, 57); Ibe 7, Gosling 6, Cook 6, Stanislas 7; King 7, Wilson 5 (Defoe, 73). Subs Boruc, Surman, Pugh, Fraser. Booked Smith. West Bromwich Albion 3-5-2 Foster 5; Hegazi 5, Evans 6 (Phillips, 77), Dawson 6; Nyom 7, Brunt 6 (Field, 82), Yacob 6, Livermore 6, Gibbs 6; Rodriguez 7 (Robson-Kanu, 86), Rondon 7 Subs Myhill, McClean, Burke, Krychowiak. Booked Dawson, Livermore. Referee Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).
Look of doom: Alan Pardew watches his West Brom side lose narrowly to Bournemouth, a result he acknowledged is likely to cost them their place in the Premier League