'West Brom can't afford to wait' - Exclusive: Phillips reacts to Bilic decision on Albion ace
We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Kevin Phillips believes Slaven Bilic dropped Grady Diangana ahead of the Tottenham game because “West Brom can’t afford to wait” for his form to pick up.
Diangana, 22, was on fire in the Championship last season while on loan at The Hawthorns, leading to the Black Country club agreeing a club-record £18million deal to buy the winger permanently from West Ham in September.
However, the England Under-21 attacker is yet to prove he’s worth that fee in the Premier League with a series of underwhelming and anonymous performances.
Stats by WyScout show that Diangana has failed to complete any of his attempted crosses this season while his dribble success-rate is down from 53.6 per cent in the Championship to 43.1 per cent in the Premier League with the Baggies.
Ahead of the clash with Spurs last week, Bilic opted to drop Diangana and hand Callum Robinson a spot back in the starting line-up with the ex-Aston Villa winger impressing as Albion fell to an unfortunate 1-0 defeat.
Phillips understands why Bilic relegated Diangana to the bench but has backed the 22-year-old to bounce back from his disappointing run of form.
Speaking exclusively to West Brom News, Phillips said: “Some players take a while to settle [in the Premier League] but, unfortunately, West Brom can’t afford to wait for players to take their time in hitting the ground running. They need it now because they need results.
“That might be a reason why Slaven’s chopped and changed and taken him out.
“It might do him the world of good. Taking a player out of the team can help, looking from the outside in.”
It has been easy to criticise West Brom’s players so far this season because Bilic’s team is winless in the Premier League and their only win in all competitions this term has come against League Two side Harrogate Town.
But there are some positives for Diangana because at the end of the day, he’s still a young player and there is a lot of pressure on him to perform because of his price-tag and how well he did in the Championship.
We’re not making excuses for Albion’s new record signing but there is still plenty of time for Diangana to get back to his best if Bilic uses him as a substitute for a few games.
There is less pressure on a substitute to perform – no one really remembers an average display by a sub.
But if Diangana manages to come off the bench in the next few weeks and help West Brom pick up points by scoring goals, sparking attacks and supplying he assists, he’ll find himself back in Bilic’s and the fans’ good books.
In other West Brom news, this Albion player was torn to shreds for his international performance on Friday.