Terry Wills looks forward to another season at the Hawthorns.
After two weeks of Olympic euphoria it’s over! Team GB did us proud, bringing the nation to a halt via every aspect of media coverage (And even the sports haters must have been slightly impressed with the success that proved we can compete with the best – given the chance). Personally, I loved the wall to wall coverage, even of sports I knew little or nothing about.
But now it’s back down to the real business. The start of another football Greed League season set against a background that, to put it mildly, proves that the game has changed and continues to evolve beyond recognition. The once mighty Rangers demoted to the Scottish third division. English clubs fighting to keep the wolf from the door-, Portsmouth, Port Vale and even Coventry in severe financial trouble, with many others wondering just how long they can survive. In contrast, many of the big boys are also moaning and groaning, worried that without an influx of desperately needed cash they won’t be able to compete for major honours.
And one of the biggest to plead they need even more loot? None other than billionaire-backed greed league champions Manchester City. Need more be said!?
So against this background our clubs, or in my case, West Bromwich Albion, will set out wondering just what lies ahead. A club that season after season start off with a single thought- Survive another season to ensure the TV gravy train continues to stop at the Hawthorns 12 months hence. Much has happened since Roy Hodgson departed. Steve Clarke is new Head Coach and there’s been an influx of new faces that seemingly convinced him they were the right moves.
Ben Foster needed no introduction, a top class keeper who is up there with the best around. Other signings, Yassive El Ghannassy, Claudio Yacob, Markus Rosenberg, and Romelu Lukaku have reportedly been impressed with the Hawthorns set-up and if they can play to the best of their ability will hold their own in the Premier League.
Add another virtual new boy Zoltan Gera. plus the promising Craig Dawson, Scott Allan and George Thorne, not forgetting all the usual suspects Brunt, Morrison, Ridgewell, Mulumbu, Thomas, Dorrans and Jonas Olsson (we definitely need to hang on to the defensive lynchpin) so at face value we SHOULD be capable of competing with clubs in a similar situation.
On to the opening game and Liverpool. Prospects? Impossible to forecast. They enjoy a magnificent record against the Baggies but after beating them at the Hawthorns a couple of season back and WINNING at Anfield last season can we add to these successes? Fans will be waiting to see who is in the starting line-up and the formation adopted. 4-4-2, 4-5-1,or possibly another that Steve Clarke feels will suit his yet to be proffered twin strikers?
The odds are that Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long will be the first option but with so many alternatives available nothing is certain other than the players themselves, plus of course the fans, will have to wait and see.
Forecast? Naturally three points would be a great start while a draw could be considered satisfactory.
Winning pre-season friendlies are one thing – translating those into the greed league will be another.
All we can do is wait and see, and whatever the result, not go over the top with gratis praise or damning criticism.
Come on you Baggies!