How West Brom used Matheus Pereira's ban to their advantage

West Brom boss Slaven Bilic admits that Matheus Pereira's recent three match ban might well have helped him rediscover his very best form for Albion


Matheus Pereira’s recently served suspension might just have been a blessing in disguise for the player and West Brom, boss Slaven Bilic reckons.

Pereira was handed a three-game ban after being found guilty of elbowing Joe Allen when Stoke City won at The Hawthorns last month, and he missed the FA Cup win at West Ham, the defeat at Cardiff and the victory over Luton Town.

Returning to action when the Baggies toppled Millwall last weekend, and then taking centre stage when they backed it up with another three points at Reading on Wednesday, Pereira came back into the side looking revitalised.

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The Brazilian has combined effectively with Callum Robinson and Filip Krovinovic in Albion’s newly adopted system and appears to be thriving once more, after a number of displays where his undoubted quality was snuffed out.

Bilic, though, revealed that his recent spell on the sidelines - which involved a week away from the club - has added that bounce back into Pereira’s step.

“I thought to myself, when that happened,” Bilic said, of the idea that the ban was timely for Pereira. “Of course we weren’t happy, when they banned him for three games, with the cup.

“But then I said, well maybe there’s something good in it, because in his career he’s never played so many games - one after another - like this. This is his first season like that, not only his but we’re talking about him.

“Maybe it was good, and we told him to go one week somewhere.

“We told him ‘don’t go wild’, he’s a professional guy, but don’t go wild and go somewhere to rest. Rest mentally more than physically, but also physically.

“He went and of course he feels like he’s benefitting from that. We should thank the FA!”

While Pereira took the plaudits at the Madejski Stadium, it was the simply the latest in a long line of excellent performances from midfielder Jake Livermore.

Having been handed the captain’s armband this season, a trim Livermore has flourished with energy and a physical domination that opponents have struggled to contain.

His boss is pleased with him, but he has asked Livermore to intensify his efforts even further.

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“He’s the captain of the team, he’s here, he’s there. He’s the most important one. He’s been brilliant for us, he’s been brilliant for me and for the whole team and the staff,” Bilic added.

“He’s a proper captain, but he must continue now like this and also put a bit more on the pedal.

“I don’t like to praise this one and this one, like it’s the end of the season. We still have games to go, guys, it’s no time for the plaudits.”