And boss says van Persie should have been sent-off
PEPE Mel believes a spate of injuries either side of half-time proved critical in his team’s 3-0 defeat by Manchester United.
And the Baggies boss felt his team should have been handed a one-man advantage in the 55th minute when Robin van Persie was fortunate not to see a second yellow card of the game for a rash challenge on Steven Reid.
The Baggies fell behind to Phil Jones’ 34th-minute header and five minutes before the break saw Claudio Yacob limp out of the action.
Chris Brunt was forced off just before the hour-mark and United cashed in while the hosts were assessing if the Hawthorns skipper could continue by doubling their lead through Wayne Rooney.
To make matters worse Steven Reid had to exit the fray on 65 – meaning all Mel’s substitutions were used up by injuries, with 25 minutes remaining.
Danny Welbeck added a third for the visitors seven minutes from time to make it a flattering scoreline for the Red Devils.
“I think we had bad luck with the three changes through three injuries," said Mel.
“We weren’t able to do anything else despite the fact the game required it.
“Due to the changes we couldn’t do anything else.
“Yes I think van Persie should have been sent-off; it was a clear second yellow card.
“If van Persie had received a red card the game would have been completely different.
“I haven’t spoken to the referee about it.
“What would have been the point; once the referee’s blown there is no going back on it.”
Mel admits the pressure is mounting on his 17th-placed men, with ten games remaining.
And he has stressed the importance of the next four matches, which come against relegation rivals Swansea, Hull, Cardiff and Norwich.
“Pressure is all part of the profession,” he added.
“I hope the players respond well to playing under pressure
“The trainer certainly does react well to being under pressure because I’m used to it.
“I’m still confident I can keep West Brom up; the next four matches are very important for us.
“They are different matches and we need 11 professionals with a good mentality.”