The only statistic that matters

Terry Wills on Albion’s memorable win at Old Trafford and more besides.

A unique unwanted record but the end result was all that mattered.

Albion 20% possession, Manchester United 80%. Baggies three points thanks to a third consecutive clean sheet display from Tony Pulis’ brave hearts – for want of a better word – and another set piece strike from Chris Brunt aided by a fortunate deflection from Jonas Olsson, meant a second successive victory at what is truly the Theatre of Dreams for Albion supporters.

Every Baggies fan either watching live or on the box must have spent the ninety+ minutes holding breath, biting nails, and wondering when the unceasing relentless pressure from Money Bags United would pay dividends. Mercifully it didn’t, meaning that although not mathematically safe from the drop it would take a series of ‘can’t happen’ results to leave Albion in the dreaded relegation spots.

When Ben Foster suffered his long-term injury many fans felt that he’d be badly missed but when he eventually returns, judged by the display of Boaz Myhill, he’ll find he won’t automatically be guaranteed the goalkeepers jersey. It was a tremendous shot-stopping display topped by his penalty save from Van Persie, that incidentally led to manager Louis van Gaal stating after his miss that he’d wouldn’t be taking any further penalties. The again tightly co-ordinated defence together with a grafting midfield all deserved the post match plaudits. Tony Pulis’ now-accepted game plan had worked again.

Next up, on paper a great chance of another three points. Newcastle United with eight consecutive defeats, accused by their manager of being cowards , branded by the media as a disgrace and fans distraught at the running of ‘their’ club. Despite all their shortcomings I expect a tough difficult game from players determined to prove they aren’t as bad as this record indicates. Backed by their passionate fans they will surely go flat out to thwart Tony Pulis’ defensive pre-match plan.

If they can’t and we snatch a goal or two it will mean guaranteed safety and a happy long ride home for the travelling Baggies passionate faithful.

I know that many are waiting to discover if Tony Pulis has a Plan B hidden up his sleeve. Choose an attacking formation and take a game to the opposition. If so we’ll have to wait until next season when with the addition of new players he can implement a different policy. For sure with the lack of striking power currently available he has little or no option but to carry on regardless.

Hopefully this week James Morrison will be available and if so based on his current creative form that will be a major asset Forecast? If both teams continue where they left off on Saturday, a Baggies win. But as said I anticipate a Newcastle team desperate for a result to come out fighting So in a glass half-empty mood I’ll take a point while three would be a bonus. Oh ye of little faith?