Albion’s season finally got started on Sunday. Terry Wills reports.
So we’re up and running. The elusive first win of the season, courtesy of Peter Odemwingie’s third minute goal, sent Baggies fans into euphoria to be followed by an excruciating 97 minutes before the ‘glorious’ agony was ended.
It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means but it did confirm that Roy Hodgson has a squad capable of grinding out a result when it mattered. And should we have failed it would have piled more early season pressure to see Albion down among the teams that even at this early stage would be considered too close to the relegation spots for comfort.
Hodgson rang the team changes. No place for Chris Brunt and James Morrison ‘rested’ after the midweek nternationals.A return for Graham Dorrans and most interestingly the first chance to see Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long in harness up front.
I daresay a Canaries fan would feel the result was unjust. They pushed forward, enjoying plenty of possession, but for all that Ben Foster wasn’t forced into making too many genuine saves.
Every supporter was eager to see the return of Graham Dorrans and he began to display glimpses of returning to his best. If his thunderbolt drive hadn’t come back off the post he would have enjoyed it even more.
Without question the outstanding performers were Jonas Olsson and Yousouff Mulumbu, players that on current form wouldn’t look out of place in any Greed League team. More power to their elbows (!), which brings us to the question of the seemingly nationwide hysteria when Gabriel Tamas and David Vaughan clashed in the penalty area. Vaughan literally spit blood, Norwich claimed a spot-kick, which was rejected, and considering what was a dubious penalty award to the Baggies, which was promptly missed by Odemwingie, this wasn’t entirely unexpected.
Tamas, subsequently found guilty of violent play, will miss three games but with Craig Dawson desperate to show what he can do when given the chance this may be the ideal opportunity.
While at times Albion found themselves on the back foot, Norwich did create and miss chances, so did Albion and to have kept a clean sheet was encouraging. More of the same, please.
Next up another promoted side – Swansea away. This will be far from easy. Okay, they are struggling, results wise, but they are a good footballing side who will cause teams problems give the opportunity. Let’s hope we aren’t one of those teams!
Oh yes – almost forgot. It’s good old Carling Cup time with Albion travelling to Merseyside to tackle Everton in midweek. How will Roy Hodgson approach this encounter? Naturally, like all managers, (or in his case Head Coach) he’ll say “We want to win every game,” but the prospects are that several of the established first team regulars will be rested.
A result at Goodison would be a bonus but sadly in the modern game the overwhelming necessity to retain Geed League status takes priority. So given the choice between possible fleeting cup success and retaining the monetary rewards for staying in top flight football to line up against the likes of the Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, there can only be one preference for any club’s owners. Can’t there?
Come on you Baggies.