Terry Wills is starting to get worried…..
So just where do Albion go from here following a truly unforgettable (for all the wrong reasons) draw against West Ham that should have seen three points won for Michael Appleton, and a look of contentment on the face of our new head coach Roy Hodgson? For me this wasn’t a draw. It will always be remembered as a defeat.
Looking on the positive side – and yes, there were some – if the opening 45 minutes could be replicated in the 12 remaining games this would surely mean our chances of watching Greed League football next season could be assured. And conversely
Back to the game, where I’d sat back and enjoyed a sparkling 45 minutes, apart from the times when I’d gleefully leapt up to see Robert Green picking the ball out of the back of his net. A 3-0 lead and although the Hammers looked dangerous surely we’d done enough to guarantee a win and stabilise a position away from the dreaded regulation spots?
A cracking goal from Graham Dorrans, Jerome Thomas slotting a delightful second, plus an own goal, gave the impression that our problems were well on the way to being solved – and judging by the contented look on Hodgson’s face he must have echoed these optimistic thoughts.
So what went wrong? Ask anyone watching the game live, or via Match of the Day. It was obvious that the current defence (a defence in name only) is palpably the worst in the Premier League.
So much relies on Youssouf Mulumbu, his determined tackling and authority being sadly missed after he was forced to leave the field and replaced by James Morrison, a player who on top form can be a valuable asset, but this wasn’t one of those days, especially as his normal game is as far removed from Mulumbu as can be imagined.
But three goals up! It was back to feeling Albion had done enough to get back on a winning trail.How wrong could we be?
Okay, I’m not a manager/head coach and my limited amateur knowledge doesn’t mean (in theory) that any instructions drilled into a team will be followed to the letter.
(In this respect I can only presume that any such letter of employment was still stuck in a postman’s bag waiting a next day delivery)
Close mark the opposition. Surely that’s so basic it’s ridiculous to even suggest that players aren’t capable of realising it’s a necessity and not an instruction, if they want to curb the opposition’s attacking options? You’d have thought so, but the Albion defence couldn’t manage even this most basic of basics.
Summing up, which is far from easy. The first half was a joy, the second a nightmare as the Hammers left disappointed they hadn’t pulled off a win which would have had left Baggies fans feeling that relegation was just around the corner. Saying that, though, the best two chances for either side in the later stages came as Peter Odemwingie spurned two one-on-ones. The look on his face spoke volumes but even so, it didn’t match those of totally dejected supporters.
Michael Appleton’s critics, and there were some, could point out that he’d made errors of judgement in his substitutions, replacing Mulumbu with Morrison-Dorrans with Tamas and worst of all, Jerome Thomas with Giles Barnes, whose display was a nightmare, not only for him but for the fans.
So on to Sunday and although as yet we haven’t been in the bottom three should the unthinkable happen and Wolves, yes the Wolves, snatch a Hawthorns win then we could be well and truly looking for a shovel in an attempt to dig Hodgson’s new team out of ever deepening mire.
It mustn’t happen but if it does then the words of our incumbent head coach in his first interview will be so very true; “I don’t care how we stay in the Premier League as long as we stay there.”
Neither do we, but in saying that, what a treat it would be for supporters not having to travel to Newcastle for the last game facing yet another nail-biting match to determine just which grounds we’ll be visiting next season.