Terry Wills on Albion’s televised match at the Etihad.
Four games to play to prove, one way or the other, if Albion can gather sufficient points to stave off relegation and in the process confirming whether fans of Liverpool or Leeds can look forward to seeing the name of West Bromwich Albion on the list of grounds they’ll be visiting when the fixtures are published for the 2014-15 season, or conversely, if Baggies Travel will giving details of trips to West Ham or Wolverhampton.
The inevitable defeat against Manchester City leaves little room for manoeuvre. When a team defends as badly as Albion on a regular basis, the number of goals conceded will continue to rise and unless rectified can only mean relegation – unless fellow strugglers show the same failings.
Yet there were encouraging aspects. Conceding two goals in the first ten minutes left the chance of gaining a result so remote it wasn’t worth considering. In truth, I had the dreaded feeling City may have gone on to increase our goals against column to an embarrassing degree
But in saying that there were encouraging signs, with slick, accurate passing raising hopes we could snatch a goal. We did, and when was the last time we saw such a magnificent goal from a Baggies player, as the one that had me leaping out of my telly watching
chair Boinging in delight? Graham Dorrans take a bow for scoring our Goal of the Season – I can’t imagine it being bettered.
Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano, together with Dorrans, continued to probe and if a ‘goal’ (ruled offside from Matej Vydra) had rightly been allowed, who knows what bearing it may have had on the final result?
But it was a rhetorical question without foundation. Against a City team overflowing with quality players, determined not to repeat dropping a point as against Sunderland, post-match I considered anything less than a three goal defeat would be acceptable. Pessimism rules ok!
On to a weekend that sees other relegation clashes but none more important than Albion playing West Ham United at the Hawthorns. Pepe Mel describes it as “Our cup final and we have to approach it in the right way.” Much will depend on whether our unenviable porous defence can somehow break the habit of conceding goals, or do they believe they’re an integral part of Pepe’s intention of making any game as entertaining as possible?
Nine conceded in the last four matches (six at home) and with Andy Carroll a towering presence, it’s to be hoped that Gareth Mc Auley is fit enough to link up with Jonas Olsson to counter this menace.
Injury problems have been a constant worry. All teams suffer them, but Albion do appear to have enjoyed more than their fair share of late. Certainly less daily visits to the medical staff would be more than welcome.
Forecast? Three points would be a Godsend. One would be reluctantly acceptable, but a defeat would only deepen the present gloomy cloud that’s taken residence over B71. Purely out of blind optimism I’ll take Albion to bag the win that would definitely ease the threat of relegation and allow every despairing fan the comfort of a happy weekend.
But should gum chewing Sam Allardyce gleefully hammer another nail in one of his old clubs’ coffin, no prizes for guessing the theme of next week’s news.
Come on you Baggies.