West Brom – Opposition view

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Next up, West Brom at the Hawthorns. What’s the mood amongst the Baggies fans ahead of the big game I bet you’re wondering? I managed to distract Finbarr from www.baggies.com from his Boing Boinging long enough to ask him a few questions.

How has the season been for you thus far? You’re currently in ninth I see?

I guess it’s going pretty much the way of the last one, lots of uninspiring slogging with the odd high point. Good results against West Ham and Palace, disappointments against Bournemouth and in the League Cup at Northampton and mediocre against the rest.

From the outside one gets the impression that in general the football wasn’t particularly entertaining last season. Has it been more watchable this year?

Not just last season, it’s been like that for a few years now but last season was especially bad. Attendances have been a few thousand down on what they should be and everyone’s blaming the style of play and lack of entertainment. There are glimmers of hope, at least, because I really can’t remember the last time we scored four goals in one game. Sadly we don’t look like repeating that feat for the time being.

Is it fair to say that Pulis has completed his task of imposing his Stoke model on to the Baggies – tree trunks at the back, bit of width and a big lad up front? Or is that brushing aside the talents of Phillips, Mclean and Chadli?

Yeah, four centre halves across the back and one target man, what’s not to like? But the green shoots of recovery may just be trying to poke through the thick layer of manure trying to smother them, and the squad now probably has more quality than it’s had for a very long time. The three you mention are part of that (though McLean is perhaps more effort than skill a lot of the time and has his moments of madness), but not the only ones – Salomon Rondon is a handful for any defence, Allan Nyom is a defender with pace and skill and Jonathan Leko is a very promising young player; there are more breaking through from the Academy as well. What they need to be allowed to do is play with a bit of freedom and lack of fear.

And what’s the early verdict on our Nacer? A lot of people at Spurs were sorry to see him go.

Probably the best signing we’ve made for a long time, Jonny Evans running a close second; a real surprising acquisition and I’m not surprised you were sorry to lose him but I guess you have a lot of very talented midfielders fighting for a few places. He was one of the first names on my team sheet every week in the Fantasy Leagues a couple of years ago (well, I can’t claim any real football management experience…) and he showed what he was capable of in the West Ham game with two goals and two assists. We just have to make sure we keep playing to his strengths and avoid trying to turn him into something he’s not.

The fall and fall of Berahino. All Spurs’ fault?

Yeah, you bastards :-). No, we seem to have a history of upsetting strikers, just look at the Peter Odemwingie saga for another good example. Spurs have clearly had a part to play in the situation but Berahino’s behaviour has been disgraceful at times and a lot of Albion fans can’t wait to see the back of him, which is sad given everything the club has done for him and his family after his desperate childhood and, most of all, his undoubted talent. When he does get to play nowadays he looks a shadow of his former self and he’s certain to leave for nothing but, maybe, a bit of compensation in the summer.

How optimistic are you for the season in terms of fruit sizes where a redcurrant is ‘If it wasn’t for that West Ham result we’d already be thinking about playing Wolves next season’ and a large grapefruit is ‘Only two places below Chelsea and look at that result against West Ham! Pulis has cracked it!’.

Ok, putting aside the obvious choice for a Pulis team – an ugli fruit – I’d probably go for a lime. It’ll do the job but it’ll put a pretty pained expression on your face while you eat it.

Any thoughts on Spurs? Anyone in our side you’re looking forward to seeing in person?

I bet you’re still buzzing from the Man City result regardless of de Bruyne’s absence – I was thinking they would walk the Premier League this season but that’s probably made a lot of people think twice and it’s not really what we want to see just before you visit us. The player that always catches my eye is Christian Eriksen, I guess that he and Alli are part of the reason we were able to sign Chadli, but Son looks like he’ll provide a real test for our defence as well.

And a prediction for the game please.

This is a really hard one. We often seem to raise our games against the better teams who try to attack us and where we can absorb a bit of pressure and go on the counter-attack, but the challenge this week will be absorbing that pressure. I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet and I can’t see us scoring many so I’m going to be very optimistic and go for a 1-1 draw.

Many thanks, cheers and ta.

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