Terry Wills on the Albion’s start to the season.
Pre-season friendly games have come and gone, whether against low level opposition or Serie A Bologna, who last played at the Hawthorns back in 1967 when both teams competed in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. And yes I remember those ‘good old days’!
Naturally for every Baggies supporter there has been one overriding question. Will any new signings provide sufficient quality enabling last seasons ‘lofty’ (ie unexpected) eighth position be equalled or possibly exceeded? Three confirmed, in Nicolas Anelka, superb against Bologna, a player displaying all his acknowledged talents, and with Diego Lugano a Uruguayan captain, no doubt that they do have quality.
Yet to be seen is Czech international Mattej Vydra, on a season long loan from Udinese. He’s a striker (or as I prefer to call them a forward) who from 32 starts for Watford last season managed to hit the back of the netted a very impressive 22 times. Doubters, and there will be some, will say it’ll be harder facing Greed League opposition than it was in the Championship. Yes it will at face value but it has to be considered an astute signing. Also ongoing is the possibility of Scott Sinclair being prised away from Manchester City. If so…
Steve Clarke’s team selections and tactics will come under close scrutiny. Will he again, as on many occasions last season, sit back, or will he gamble on dictating the pattern of play from early on? It will be fascinating to see which formation he adopts now he has genuine claimants to make his starting eleven.
4-4-2 or .4-5-1, possibly on rare occasions 4-3-3 , but I suspect it will be 4-4-2 early on.If that is the case I get the impression it will be Shane Long sitting among the substitute patiently waiting to show he could change the course of a game. Any squad with players of the quality of Foster, Yacob, McAuley, Mulumbu, Olsson, Dorrans, Morrison, Brunt and the rest can, on form, compete with the majority of the big boys. But being honest Albion are one of the majority of clubs who can simply do their best to ensure they can stabilise a comfortable finishing position, while at the same time having a real crack at winning a cup competition.
So, our first Greed League fixture. Southampton at the Hawthorns – a similar-sized club who harbour similar ambitions. Last season saw a comfortable double against the Saints and what a fillip it would be if we can gather our first three points.
Whether Birmingham Press readers, (whichever team they support) agree with these observations or not, I’m 100% sure it will be a relief to watch some football and not read and listen to the boring, non-stop tedious, claptrap that assails our eyes and ears every day….Louis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, and Gareth Bale!
Come on You Baggies.