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West Brom notebook: Shilen Patel ‘aligning’, Phillips patience, out of contract pointer

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Shilen Patel’s decision to let the Spaniard and his team continue doing their vital work day in and day out has satisfied Carlos Corberan. With two games left in the regular season, West Bromwich Albion hopes to solidify their spot in the Championship play-off spots.

February was Albion’s time of need, and by the end of the month, Patel had taken over from Guochuan Lai. Naturally, there was a great deal of relief and celebration at hearing that news. Even though Patel is stationed hundreds of miles away from Albion, it has been wonderful to see him already fully involved in everything that the island has to offer. As for Corberan, he has loved his conversations with the owner but is appreciative of being left on his own these weeks.

Since taking control, Corberan and Patel have already discussed their long-term goals for the team. More discussions are anticipated throughout the summer, when the team will find out which division they will play football in the following season. After Lai’s radio quiet, Corberan—who had a generally good connection with the ownership throughout his time at Huddersfield Town—has seen a positive trend.

But now, during the most important times of the season, the day job takes precedence over everything else.

“Having the ability to communicate is always more than beneficial since you will always have the chance to speak with someone, even during a stressful time,” Corberan stated. “Let’s be extremely constructive. When you speak with someone face-to-face, you can discuss things in depth and give them careful thought. However, I also really appreciate Shilen realizing how tough this time has been compared to his time as the club’s manager.

“He is providing us with the opportunity to concentrate entirely on improving our work. I think he has struck a very good balance because, even though it takes a lot of time to prepare games and analyze previous games when you play two or three games in a row, it’s beneficial for everyone to have these internal discussions.

The era of “sugar daddy” owners is over. Even though Patel is a multibillionaire with an endless budget, clubs are unable to spend freely and buy their way out of leagues or awards thanks to modern spending regulations, which several clubs have recently experienced the consequences of breaking. These days, you have to approach situations more strategically.

“Football teams must operate within their means, but that is one aspect of a coach’s role that may be handled by other departments,” Corberan continued. “Ian Pearce, our head of recruitment, and his team must take into account every single factor, including the league you can play in, the amount of money you have to spend, the market targets you can have, and if you can get players on free agents, loans, or in the final year of their contracts.

Thus, in the end, they must take into account everything, which includes, in my opinion, the job being done by another department and their own responsibilities. What makes this club so successful is that everyone is committed to cooperating while carrying out their individual responsibilities. Together, as a result of having a completely aligned vision and having the freedom to concentrate entirely on your responsibilities.”

West Bromwich Albion owner Shilen Patel (right) with club managing director Mark Miles
Corberan stated that Albion needs to exercise patience with Matt Phillips following the winger’s recent return to the team. Phillips had a hamstring injury during the team’s December loss to Leicester and made his comeback on Good Friday against Millwall. Since his return, he hasn’t started a game. Corberan explained that by seeing action from the bench, he will be able to gradually regain his physical fitness and be prepared to play from the very beginning.

“What I’m observing in Phillips is that he provides instructions following each game. In comparison to his performance against Rotherham the previous day, the quality of the minutes he played against Milwall was subpar “said the player. “It has more to do with the circumstances than the opponent, and after more game time, he will be more prepared.

“What is the challenging circumstance involving Phillips? I couldn’t play as well as I do with Josh Maja with Phillips; you need to play more minutes. Sixty minutes, or even sixty with the under-21s, elevates you above the meagre minutes with the first team since they have a good impact on your body and conditions rather than just covering other, lesser minutes.

“Why is Phillips taking longer to catch up to his level? We couldn’t accomplish it since we didn’t complete the game exposure. Why didn’t I participate in the under-21 exposure? We didn’t have enough backup wingers because Phillips was in his position, Asante wasn’t playing, and we had a lot of wingers in the starting lineup. The demands of the team are always greater than those of the individual player.

“The team’s needs come first in everything, followed by the players’ needs. These two items occasionally occur at the same time. It is my responsibility to assess the player’s and the team’s needs. It’s important for players to recognize their needs because sometimes they differ from their wants.”

Motivation beyond the contract

Albion currently has a lot of players out of contract this coming summer, much like many of their Championship rivals and clubs farther abroad. Many of these players are crucial members of the first squad. The Baggies will currently say goodbye to Alex Mowatt, Cedric Kipre, Kyle Bartley, Matt Phillips, Adam Reach, Nathaniel Chalobah, Erik Pieters, and Yann M’Vila in addition to a number of young talents like Martin Kelly.

There is obviously still a lot to determine and talk about. Supporters of Albion will typically like to see players like Mowatt and Kipre retained, but the team has many financial considerations to make, not the least of which is where division they may play in next season. Until then, Corberan hasn’t had any reason to question the dedication and drive of any players who could be departing the team in the coming months.

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