Heroic failure and disappointing success

Terry Wills reports on Albion’s week.

Where to start I ask myself. Two games – an important Hawthorns Greed League fixture against reigning champions Chelsea followed by a League Cup visit from lowly Port Vale.

First, the defeat against the self-described Special One’s Chelsea, who as anticipated had quality in abundance to underline the difference between the sides. But then comparing their spending power too Albion’s limited financial resources it didn’t come as a surprise.

Naturally the continuing soap opera drama surrounding Saido Berahino was the major talking point that led Tony Pulis deciding he wasn’t in the ‘right frame of mind’ for the game. Chelsea opened up a 2-0 lead, James Morison pulled a goal back only to see the keeper save a penalty which ironically from the corner saw Chelsea break away to make it 3-1.

Second half, and the sight of John Terry shown a red card could have changed the game. Morrison scored his second, and with record signing Solomon Rondon’s strength and power causing problems we could have snatched a point. It wasn’t to be and Albion, despite an improved performance, found themselves bottom of the league. Overall an encouraging display despite poor defending. An added bonus was the sight of a genuine wide man with Callum McManaman showing pace and trickery. Long may it continue.

On to the Port Vale game, and I wish I could draw a ‘veil’ over one of the worst games I have ever seen. There was not a shred of evidence to leave Baggies fans thinking that better times were laying in wait just around the corner. Yes, Albion dominated possession, but Vale fought for every ball, looked useful going forward but never seriously tested Boaz Myhill. Albion’s new hoped-for scorers Lambert and Rondon both scorned chances long before extra time and penalties eventually saw us thought to the next round.

On to Saturday with Baggies taking the other Potteries team; Tony Pulis’s ex, Stoke City. Forecast? Without a 100% improvement, especially in ball retention and distribution, Stoke have to considered favourites to heap more misery on the team and frustrated supporters.

Add the will he go or stay situation of Saido Berahino and Pulis’s bizarre decision in deciding that Jonas Olsson is a better centre back than Joleon Lescott, who he’s willing to let move on when another centre half is signed. Sorry Tony, for me this decision is palpably wrong. But you’re the boss and all the fans can do is bow to your obvious superior knowledge. You know that what in your opinion is best for the club while we do not have to carry the can if your judgments turn out to be incorrect.

Albion to grab a result? Fingers well and truly crossed.