Shropshire Star

Five things to take from West Brom's pre-season draw with Watford

Albion continued their solid showing throughout pre-season with a creditable draw with Premier League side Watford over the weekend.


Here are five things to take from that performance against the Hornets.

Grady Diangana shone

Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

One man who stood out for Albion at Vicarage Road was Grady Diangana.

Baggies fans know just how much of a threat he can be running at defenders, but they didn't see enough of it last season - with the former Hammers man struggling for regular minutes, especially under Sam Allardyce.

Don't expect that to be the case this season though, with Ismael clearly rating the winger, and he looked back to his marauding best on Saturday.

He was the man on the end of Albion's best chance of the afternoon, but couldn't find the finish necessary to beat Ben Foster, but he was a constant problem for the Hornets in the first half.

His best moment came when he dropped deep, received the ball in his own half, before somehow escaping two Watford men whilst driving forward to fashion a chance for Karlan Grant - it was a moment of magic, and one Ismael will hope to see more of this season.

Albion are buying into the Ismael style

Valerien Ismael the head coach / manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

Whilst results are always great to see, the real task over this pre-season for Albion is to become comfortable with a whole new style of play under the new manager - and it's clearly taking.

Watford were rarely given a moment to breathe at the back, particularly over the first 45 minutes, and Albion regularly managed to win the ball back in the host's half.

Ismael pointed out the chances his side created out of possession after the game, and those are the kind of opportunities you sense he really wants to see the Baggies creating.

It's not without its flaws though. There were a handful of times Watford managed to break Albion's press and catch out the high line implemented by Ismael, and on another day Watford could have capitalised with a goal.

But the Baggies are buying into the Ismael way, and it's exciting to see.

David Button looks to be the number one

David Button of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

As reported last week, David Button is the man likely to start between the sticks for Albion should Sam Johnstone depart the club, as expected this summer.

This game was further proof of Ismael's belief in the 32-year-old, who started and finished the encounter.

We've previously seen Albion bring on promising shot-stopper Alex Palmer during pre-season games, but this wasn't the case at Watford.

Button had a fine afternoon too, and looks reliable in goal, and crucially - brave enough to come out when the defensive line is played past.

He also seems capable with his feet, encapsulated by the moment he came out of his box, claimed a long ball forward with his feet and cleared calmly despite having Troy Deeney charging at him.

A striker is still a necessity this summer

Kenneth Zohore of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

If there's one position Albion desperately need additions it's up-front - and it showed at Vicarage Road.

Matt Phillips has impressed Ismael as a central striker, and he's shown a willingness to learn, improve and help the team by taking on that new role.

It would be no surprise to see him feature in a number of different positions, up-front included this season, but the side really do need an accomplished striker to fill the void.

Kenneth Zohore came on to replace Phillips, but struggled to make a real impact, and outside of that the Baggies really are down to bare bones.

A focal point is desperately needed, and it must be addressed in the summer window.

Ben Foster is still a Baggie at heart

Ben Foster of Watford attends to the injured Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

One moment which brought a real touch of class throughout the fixture came at half-time, when ex-Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster made his way to the small travelling contingent in the far corner of the Graham Taylor Stand.

Foster will always be adored by Albion fans, and the goalkeeper will always hold the club in the highest regard - it's a reciprocated love which was on full show over the weekend.

Foster took the majority of the half-time break out to go and take pictures, sign shirts and chat with the fans who made the trip.

He was given a hero's welcome by the supporters as he came onto the pitch before kick-off, and throughout the game there were songs sung to one of football's good guys.

The 38-year-old is still a Baggie at heart, there's no hiding that fact.