We’ve lost that winning feeling

Terry Wills on the turn of the year at the Hawthorns.

December 31st: Happy New Year. Bells rang and fireworks lit up the sky with the intention of despatching the Olympics glory of 2012 into history and hopefully continuing with similar acclaim for 2013.

January 1st and for Albion supporters nothing could change the fact that games against Manchester United and Fulham both finished with defeats. The 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford was to be expected although there was a sneaky feeling that if the Baggies were at their best, and United were below par, we could have snatched a point.  It wasn’t to be although a much changed injury-hit Steve Clarke side were in with a chance after falling behind to an early Gareth McAuley own goal.

They knuckled down and even Alex Ferguson was prepared to concede that “West Brom dominated the second half and kept pumping the ball into our box. Our defence did better than we have all season. But credit to West Brom they had more of the game in the second half and were a threat with their crosses” I can’t help think his change of mood followed his outrageous verbal attack on Alan Pardew and that ‘Wee club in the North East’ jibe had something to do with this mellow train of thought. But it was a good display that left many media pundits conceding Albion had given the Reds a run for their money.

Then came  Fulham at the Hawthorns – a team with a dreadful away record and among the 25,000 plus crowd (including a coach load of Cottagers fans) we never expected to watch such a pitiful display, sorry non-display, as we were forced to endure in a shameful first 45 minutes. Has anyone got any ideas as to just why Berbatov was allowed to roam without a hint of a challenge – was he suspected of having a contagious disease and had to be avoided at all costs?

Yes there was an improvement in the second half but then that wasn’t difficult. An equaliser from Romelu Lukaku and things were looking up until an awful defensive tangle gifted Fulham a second and winning goal.

Two inescapable facts. Without Jonas Olsson we lack genuine leadership, Chris Brunt is never a captain and when he plays as badly he did in this game he isn’t worth a starting place, while Claudio

Yacob.is a cut above any replacement. While those optimistic hopes that Albion could finish challenging seriously for a 2014 European spot are slowly fading (although there is still a long way to go) many feel that the best chance of actually being genuine contenders for a trophy rests in the FA Cup.

Well, that challenge starts at Loftus Road on Saturday, where we won a couple of weeks ago. And I can’t help but feel that unless Steve Clarke selects his strongest possible team, no six or seven changes please Steve, the chances of a cup run ending at Wembley will end in an inglorious failure at the first hurdle.

Come on you Baggies.

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