Terry Wills on Albion’s start to the season.
Ouch! A 3-0 home defeat is hard to take whatever the reasons or circumstances, especially on the opening day of a new season when fans have been hoping for a reasonable start. But in Albion’s defence (play on words there!) they can console themselves and the fans that they’re unlikely to play a multi-million pounds assembled team that judged on this display will be a very big threat to Chelsea’s hopes of retaining the Greed League title ever week.
Manchester City were a class apart. Dominating in all areas; passing the ball as if in a training exercise, creating chances, and after a somewhat fortunate opening goal never looked likely to be seriously troubled.
Rarely had I seen any team given so much freedom in midfield, Tony Pulis subsequently admitting that his team selection and tactics were wrong. Possibly so but for me whatever team he’d chosen it wouldn’t have made any significant difference. City were simply on a different level.
Naturally new signings James Chester, Rickie Lambert, and James McCLean were the centre of attention but of the three only Lambert had what could be termed a promising debut. The absence of Claudio Yacob, later coming on as a substitute, was a mistake but by then the damage had been done. Saido Berahino playing wide was the only genuine threat but even he missed a gilt edged scoring chance before the break.
So with one game played Albion find themselves bottom of the table with and a series of difficult fixtures laying in wait. Watford away , who’ll be looking for their first win. Chelsea anxious to prove that THEY are still favourites for the title, not forgetting they lost 3-0 at the Hawthorns last season, followed by a trip to Tony Pulis’ old team, a certain Stoke City. And no Baggies supporter needs reminding that Albion’s record against the Potters is, putting it mildly, poor.
On a brighter note the Baggies new record £12 million signing Solomon Rondon, a Venezualan international from Zenit St Petersburg, has captured the supporters’ imagination. Big and strong, a goal scorer at international, European and domestic level, a player who judged on video clips and reputation appears a shrewd purchase. Long may it continue now he’s wearing a new traditional blue and white striped shirt.
On to Saturday’s visit to the home of the Hornets, where Pulis certainly won’t want to suffer a second successive stinging. This will be difficult but while at this early stage of the season a defeat wouldn’t be considered a major disaster it would automatically trigger doubts of avoiding another frustrating campaign.
But then Watford aren’t a Manchester City so with the hope that Albion will get it right this week my feeling is that we’ll return with at least a point. If not
no prizes for guessing what will be general reaction of Baggies fans.