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Pardew bemused by flat first half

West Brom were nudged a step closer to relegation by defeat to Burnley.


Alan Pardew

Alan Pardew

Alan Pardew

Alan Pardew put West Brom’s poor first-half display in the defeat to Burnley down to nerves and “massive pressure”.

The Baggies went into the match bottom of the Premier League and 10 points adrift of safety, staring into the abyss of relegation after seven successive defeats.

The hosts were punished for a lacklustre start when Ashley Barnes put Burnley ahead with a stunning volley after 22 minutes.

Pardew brought on Matt Phillips for Kieran Gibbs at the start of the second half and changed the shape of his team but they fell further behind when Chris Wood struck in the 73rd minute.

It was a much-improved showing after the break from West Brom and Salomon Rondon pulled a goal back with seven minutes remaining but it was not enough to prevent a club-record eighth straight Premier League loss.

“It was the same team that started at Bournemouth before the (international) break but the first-half performances were marked in contrast and I was stood on the touchline scratching my head,” said Baggies boss Pardew.

“Pressure does strange things to you and we stood off Burnley in the first half and did not engage them.

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“I had no choice but to change things for the second half and when we engaged them and put them under pressure we improved and the second half was 1-1, but I think we should have won it and perhaps got a draw out of the game.

“But sitting here saying nearly is what I’ve done for the last eight or nine games. But at least we showed a bit of character in the second half and a bit of resilience.

“It’s a balance between having some strong words in the dressing room and knocking people who are very nervous.

“Sometimes you can sense in the team that they are suffering from that (pressure) and we definitely sensed that in the first half.

“Any football person would have been able to see that the team was not not trying, they were nervous and under massive pressure.

“The thing I will say is for our fans, that I hope they can understand that. Because as a fan it is hard having to watch and sit through that in the first half.”

Barnes’ goal was a thing of beauty. The ball fortuitously ricocheted into the path of Aaron Lennon down the right and his cross was slightly behind Barnes but the striker hooked a volley over his shoulder and into the top corner.

The 28-year-old had his name on the score sheet for the fourth successive match and Burnley boss Sean Dyche believes Barnes is getting better and better.

“I think he continues to adapt to the challenge,” said Dyche. “His game has improved season on season with us and he continues to do so.

“Players piece it all together but the thing is with football people want it yesterday and these things take time.

“It’s not that easy and Barnes is a good sign of someone who year on year keeps learning, keeps developing and keeps improving.”

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