Storming the Palace

Terry Wills on Albion’s win at Crystal Palace.

What a difference a day makes, or in the case of the Baggies, totally unexpected win at Selhurst Park, seven days makes the difference.

Surely only a supremely one-eyed optimist could have predicted a complete turn around following those dismal defeats against QPR and Leicester City. But well done lads. Here’s hoping you continue in the same vein until the end of what has been a very disappointing season.

Why the difference? Credit Tony Pulis for working and minimising defensive errors. A probing midfield that grafted 100% and helped restrict the speedy Palace team to a minimum of scoring chances. And what a start; a second minute header from James Morrison leaving Baggies fans in dreamland and despite being under constant pressure from a side seeking a fifth successive victory they looked confident and secure.

More so after Craig Gardner blasted home what could turn out to be voted Albion’s goal of the season. It was a strike aptly summed up by Radio WM’s Paul Franks – “What a terrific strike. It was like taking a knife to a teddy bear, and tearing it apart. It’s knocked the stuffing out of Palace and their fans”

Yes, a priceless three points that without tempting fate virtually assures that Albion won’t be playing Championship football next season. Pulis won’t be happy until it’s mathematically certain. He’s looking for forty points while the players stress that they cannot rely on other teams results.

Tony Pulis has spelt out his message loud and clear. The squad needs a major overall, which I interpret to mean replacing far too many quantity players with quality. The sort he feels can and will be capable of slotting into his preferred playing style and methods whether supporters agree or disagree.

Albion will need to spend heavily and wisely to compete with clubs in a similar position. Keep in the black and at the same time hopefully remain a club that , if not ever likely to challenge for major honours, will be competitive. Again, how much cash will be available from Jeremy Peace or any prospective new owners to allow Pulis to bring in the players he needs?

Saturday sees the first of the games against clubs striving to finish among the big boys awash with cash and more than happy to carry on spending. Liverpool – fresh from their semi-final defeat against neighbouring Aston Villa, who dominated the game and well deserved to book a return visit to play Arsenal in the final.

This is a two-edged sword game. Will we see Liverpool going flat out still hoping to clinch an – albeit unlikely – top four spot or will the Baggies deepen their misery with a repeat of the Palace performance to increase our confidence?

Forecasting any Albion game is difficult but I’m reasonably confident that at the worst of gaining a point, and at the best snatching a win. Roll on Saturday to prove whether I’m right or wrong!