Carlos Corberán looks ahead to 'special' Play-Off encounters

Carlos Corberán delivering a message to his players on the training pitch

Carlos Corberán says he, his coaching staff and the playing squad are all incredibly excited to tackle the challenge of the Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs.

The Baggies go up against Southampton over two legs in the semi-finals, with the first encounter taking place at The Hawthorns on Sunday afternoon (ko 2.15pm).

Albion finished the 2023/24 season in fifth position in the table, while their opponents ended the term one place higher than Corberán’s men. 

The boss believes both battles are going to be “special” and insists it’s impossible to achieve anything in life, or in football, without overcoming difficult tests.

Carlos Corberán delivering a speech in the middle of a training session surrounded by members of his squad

Carlos said: “We know that these two games are going to be special moments in the season. 

“To achieve a place in the play-offs was one of the targets that we had, but we know that we now have the possibility to give our best in these two games. 

“We’re all looking forward to these moments and these games, especially the one at home in front of our fans. We’re excited to try and achieve our targets.

“Everything that we have achieved this season has been based on the work of the team and now we need to put the best of our work over 46 games into one game at home and one game away. If we are to get to Wembley, then this is how we are going to have to do it. 

Carlos Corberán crouched down on the training pitch by a ball

“I don’t think that luck will be part of the final result over the two games. 

“We are going to play at least 180 minutes of football and normally luck just applies to a small part of one game. When you play 180 minutes minimum against the same team, the team who competes better and performs better on the pitch will usually make it through.

“Of course, it’s clear that we couldn’t beat Southampton this season in the two league games. They finished the season 12 points ahead of us. They are a strong team and they were in the race for automatic promotion from the start of the campaign.

“They’ve been Premier League regulars in recent times and they have built a structure and a squad which is based around the Premier League and we understand the difficulty of the challenge. 

“However, in football and in life, to achieve something special, you have to overcome these difficult challenges and this challenge is certainly one of those.”

Carlos Corberán watching training

The Spaniard has been involved in the Championship Play-Offs once before, leading Huddersfield Town to the final at Wembley in 2022. 

The Terriers were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Nottingham Forest in the capital having edged beyond Luton Town in the semi-finals. 

Carlos says it’s his job as a head coach to learn from every single experience he’s had in management, whether that be his participation in the Play-Offs or in other competitions.

Carlos Corberán writing a note down during the middle of a training session

“As a coach, you try to use any opportunity or any previous experience to improve yourself as a coach. It could be the decisions you make, how you manage the game or anything.

“You can only use the experiences you have had. You can’t just use the experience you’ve had in the play-offs though. 

“As a coach, I have to use all the experiences I have had in the play-offs and fighting relegation with Huddersfield, in European competition and domestically with Olympiacos and the experiences I’ve had here at West Bromwich Albion.

“I have been coaching in lots of different scenarios and in lots of different types of games. I use all of these experiences to try and improve myself as a coach.”

Carlos Corberán delivering information to his players on the training pitch

Albion host the Saints on Sunday before heading down to St Mary’s Stadium next Friday night for the return leg. 

Corberán says he won’t be putting too much pressure on his squad to get themselves a healthy lead this weekend, insisting whatever the result, there’ll be plenty to play for on the south coast. 

“The target is to arrive at Wembley Stadium, but at this moment in time, we don’t know what exactly we are going to need to get there in terms of results at home and away. 

“I cannot put pressure or expectation on the first game and I cannot say that making Wembley depends on the result of the first game.

“What we do know is that we’ll be playing at home and we know that we are strong at home. 

Carlos Corberán holding a note out on the training pitch

“We are strong at home because we have developed our game at The Hawthorns and we have our own style. We also feel massive support from our fans and we feel comfortable there.

“This is the first part of our target, to get a positive result at home, but there are many targets we’ll have to hit to arrive at Wembley. 

“I don’t want to tell you that if Sunday doesn’t go well then we don’t have the possibility to make it to Wembley, and I don’t want to tell you that if Sunday does go well then we have all the options to make it there.

“There will be at least 180 minutes played in the semi-final and the key to achieving a place in the final will be to perform well in the majority of those minutes, if not all of them. 

Carlos Corberán crouched down blowing a whistle while holding a ball during training

“To perform well, we have to use our best behaviours from the last 46 matches in the Sky Bet Championship and put it into these two games.

“Sometimes in football and especially here, you learn that you don’t have to ask for things because they are based in the identity of the club.

“In the identity of our fans, something is built in them to always support us. They can make The Hawthorns a really difficult place to come and play. Historically this is true and it’s also true for right now. 

“We know that when we create that togetherness of us competing well on the pitch and giving our best and our fans supporting us, we are a much stronger team.”

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