Terry Wills offers an Albion perspective of last Saturday’s Hawthorns derby.
Down the years I’ve seen dozen of local derbies that for one reason or another, fell into three categories ranging from good, bad to indifferent. but for the game between Albion and Aston Villa I can now add a fourth category…DREADFUL.
No-one expected a classic.But with Albion hoping to record their first double over the old rivals since 1974 and Villa desperate for three points in an attempt to climb away from the dreaded relegation spots, I certainly anticipated a far more positive approach from Albion to counter what would almost certainly be Villa’s attacking policy.
No chance. the usual Tony Pulis philosphy of making sure that if you can’t win the game then don’t lose it gave me the impression that Villa wanted to win more than the Baggies. They attacked with purpose, ran harder, dominated possession, but this was negated by their total inability to seriously trouble the returning Ben Foster.
With the Baggies even worse as an attacking unit, Salomon Rondon ploughing his usual lone furrow up front with little or no support, it was clear that if ever there was to be a game where one goal would prove decisive, this woud be it. Fair enough, it was a weakened Baggies team with Jonas Olsson and Darren Fletcher playing despite not being fully fit while James Morrison and Chris Brunt were missing, but even that couldn’t hide the fact that if this form was carried on in the remaining games, perish the thought,we’d be among the bottom three struggling clubs.
The plus points were Ben Foster, a reasonably solid defence and Stephane Sessegons, who always looks dangerous but it’s such a pity that he attempts one trick too many, consequently leading to possible scoring opportunities being wasted.
There were minus points aplenty, mainly an inability to pass the ball accurately unless to a claret and blue shirt, a general lack of enthusiasm and seemingly not prepared to give 100% in a 50/50 challenge.
So, where too from here? in the case of Saido Berahino, who knows? Off to Spurs is a possibility, but if not he needs to knuckle down, if chosen of course, and play as we know he can rather than as a pale imitation. Tony Pulis should be looking to give Callum McManaman a chance as he can create opportunities but seemingly he’ll always be second choice to James McClean, who has superior defensive qualities.
This week mercifully sees a break from Greed League football with Peterborough at the Hawthorns for a fourth round FA Cup clash. Logically we should make progress but a repeat of the shambles seen against Villa could prove disastrous. The team surely can’t repeat such a dismal performance but if so…. need more be said?