The headlines from this week of Championship action will be that West Bromwich Albion are no longer top of the table after they fell to a 1-1 draw against Wigan on Wednesday night whilst Leeds United overcame Hull City 2-0 at Elland Road.
However, the Baggies draw with Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium was not at all a failure, and whilst Slaven Bilic rotated and left a number of key players on the bench, he got everything right on the night and did the right thing, mainly because he clearly had one eye on the rest of the season.
The Croatian manager opted to leave both Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira on the bench, and whilst that may look like a mistake in hindsight seeing that the West Midlands club failed to get all three points against relegation battling Wigan, it was almost certainly the right call.
This weekend sees West Brom playing a second successive away game as they travel to face Birmingham at St. Andrew’s, and that will also be a mightily tough game, yet one where Bilic can call upon both Diangana and Pereira with the pair being in much better shape than they could have been.
A horrendously unlucky Sam Johnstone own goal, after the ‘keeper pushed Sam Morsy’s long-range strike onto the post just for it to bounce off his back and into the net, was followed up by a Charlie Austin strike from an indirect free-kick that was laid off to him inside the box. The goals certainly weren’t conventional, but that’s football.
Will Slav guide West Brom back to the Premier League?
The Baggies next three games are against Birmingham, Brentford and Barnsley, whilst Leeds face Cardiff, Fulham and Preston, and should Pereira and Diangana stay injury-free and at their best level and have the Baggies back at the top of the table after these three games, the Bilic’s decision to bench them both here will prove to be genius.