We recently caught up with Mark Thomas, Co-Editor of Albion Till We Die : An Independent West Bromwich Albion Website to fire some questions at him ahead of Tottenham’s clash with the Baggies this afternoon.
Who are you and why are you a West Brom fan?
I’m Mark, a lifelong fan and season ticket holder for over 20 years. The vast majority of my family are all Baggies, and added to the fact I was born in West Bromwich and still live there, there was only one team for me really. Like most supporters I was taken by my dad to my first game and it all snowballed from there. I also run an independent West Brom website although time really does restrict what I can do with it.
3-0 against Liverpool is a pretty tasty way to start the season. I imagine the Hawthorns was a crazy Boing Boing riot?
Not surprisingly it was a fantastic atmosphere last Saturday. Whilst a lot of fans were quietly confident we could get a decent result, the manner in which we did it took not only us supporters by surprise but most of the media and neutrals too. Predictably we didn’t really get the credit we deserved, most people preferring to comment on Liverpool.
What was the general reaction to the appointment of Steve Clarke? Would someone with a bit more experience, like Hughton or Curbs been preferred?
I’d be lying if I said he was the fans’ first choice, in fact he wasn’t even mentioned as a contender until he was virtually appointed. Most supporters, including myself, did hope that we would appoint someone in the mould of Roy Hodgson, someone with plenty of experience at the highest levels. To be honest though, very few managers really fitted the bill, although ironically if we had waited a little bit longer a certain Harry Redknapp would have been available…
Apart from Clarke, have you brought in much new blood during the summer?
Yes, we have bought in so far five new players. Perhaps most importantly, goalkeeper, and last year’s player of the season Ben Foster made his loan deal permanent. Argentinian midfielder Claudio Yacob arrived on a free and with an impressive reputation which he massively enhanced in last week’s game against Liverpool. Romelu Lukaku has arrived on a season long loan from Chelsea and again he got off to a fantastic start last weekend. Our two other new signings’, Belgian winger Yassine El Ghanassy and Swedish international striker Markus Rosenberg have yet to really figure but again they come with exciting reputations.
Was there anything new in the way that Clarke got the team to play last week? High pressing is in vogue (at White Hart Lane anyway).
We did seem far more attacking than under previous boss Hodgson but on the flipside the defence did give Liverpool a few too many chances, probably far more chances than if Hodgson had still been in charge. Steve Clarke has promised ‘dynamic football’ so it will be interesting to see what happens as the season progresses.
One way or another, Spurs provided a lot of the news over the summer what with Harry, AVB and the interminably dull Modric saga. How has it looked from your angle? Like a cunning plan slowly evolving or a disorganised shambles?
I think the Redknapp departure was a shock to most observers, and yes that did come across as a bit of a shambles. The appointment of AVB, whilst not particularly shocking was I think a huge gamble. Swapping Harry for AVB does seem like a backwards step. As for Modric, I think its part and parcel of the game these days as frustrating as it is for us supporters.
Any Spurs player you’re particularly fearing or looking forward to seeing?
Us Baggies definitely fear Jermaine Defoe who has a very nasty habit of scoring goals against us. I’d be a lot more confident about the game if he wasn’t playing that’s for sure.
And a few quick ones –
Frank Skinner or Michael McIntyre? Skinner
Faggots and peas or pie, mash and parsley liquor? Faggots and ‘pays’
Adele or Bev Bevan? Bev Bevan
And finally a prediction for Saturday?
Well I’m hoping that Spurs will be still adjusting to life after Harry, and with our lads full of confidence after last week’s win, I fancy us to return north with a point. 2-2
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