West Bromwich Albion Will Use Remaining Fixtures to Prepare for Playoffs

West Bromwich Albion Will Use Remaining Fixtures to Prepare for Playoffs  - FootyNews.co.uk
READING, ENGLAND – APRIL 22: West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager James Shan during the Sky Bet Championship fixture between Reading FC and West Bromwich Albion at Madejski Stadium on April 22, 2019 in Reading, England. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion will use their remaining fixtures against Rotherham United and Derby County to prepare for the playoffs. James Shan’s side secured their spot in the top six with a goalless draw at Reading last week. Leaving a two-legged showdown with Midlands rivals Aston Villa looking the most likely scenario and Shan wants the Baggies to be fully prepared.

West Bromwich Albion Playoff Preparation 

Eyes on the Prize

West Bromwich Albion have their eyes fixed firmly on the playoffs after guaranteeing their inclusion with their first goalless draw of the season. Interim head coach James Shan heavily rotated his squad for the games over Easter weekend in hopes of keeping players fresh. Shan implemented an absolutely zero risk attitude with his players, Jake Livermore was rested for both games over the weekend. Whilst Ahmed Hegazi missed the visit to Reading after being subbed in the 18th minute as a precaution in the previous fixture.

Shan now faces a balancing act with his squad as he looks to keep players fresh as well as sharp. He is likely to put out his strongest possible starting 11 against Rotherham at home but rest key players when they end the regular season away at Derby County. Short of an extraordinary capitulation by one of the sides around them, West Brom are likely to meet Aston Villa in the playoff semi-final.

Experience Added

West Bromwich Albion have added experience to their coaching staff as they prepare for the final push. Michael Appleton has joined James Shan’s backroom staff until the end of the season. The former Albion midfielder has previously held roles including first-team coach and assistant manager at the club. Appleton, who also had one game as caretaker manager of West Brom following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in 2011, will join the squad next week.

Appleton is the second former Albion player to be added to Shan’s coaching staff, joining Steven Reid, who was appointed last week. James Shan has done a fantastic job under the circumstances but adding such vast experience to the Baggies playoff push is a shrewd move.

Final Home Fixture 

West Bromwich Albion host Rotherham United in their final home fixture of the regular season this weekend. James Shan boasts a perfect home record since taking charge of the first-team and will look to make it five straight wins at The Hawthorns. Surprisingly though, the Baggies have never won a home league tie against Rotherham, something they will be desperate to change.

Rotherham look very likely to drop out of the division but are still mathematically able to save themselves. Their form doesn’t suggest that they are capable of doing so though, the Millers have only taken four points from a possible 21 in their last seven games. They need six points from their remaining two games to give them a chance, but it is likely that they will be relegated this weekend.