All square at the SoL

Chadli is what we’ve been waiting for

I haven’t got much to complain about regarding our game at Sunderland. Nacer Chadli has transformed the way we attack and we looked very dangerous going forward. Our main problem was putting the chances away. There were a lot of wasteful final balls, without which we would have won comfortably, in my opinion.

During the first half it amusingly looked like Albion v Albion. Sunderland just didn’t want the ball and were happy to sit back and for us to play in front of them. It was good to see that despite this we looked to try and play on the front foot and take the game to them.

Nacer Chadli is what we have been missing for quite a while; a quality number 10 who can provide that link between the midfield and attack. Based on his stats so far this season for us compared to his stats last season, it appears that the way Albion setup is very much suited to Chadli’s style. He has already become a fan favourite and long may his excellent form continue.

Attendance

Everyone probably heard that we only took 700-750 supporters to this game. We did back the team throughout and there was even a rendition of “Tony Pulis’ Barmy Army” during the second half. Where away fans are based up in the gods at The Stadium of Light probably meant our support didn’t appear too loud to the rest of the stadium, but at least we tried.

Pulis’ post match comments praising the home fans has been interpreted by some as a dig at our own fans. I didn’t think Sunderland fans were that impressive. They appeared to be going through the motions until later in the game where a couple of huge roars went up when they realised they had a chance to get a result. However I would like Pulis to acknowledge the effort from our own fans more often. He may not care about empty seats, but he should care about showing appreciation to the ones who are there week in, week out.

Fans just didn’t fancy a 4 hour journey to Sunderland and back again when they didn’t know which Albion would turn up. I thought the game was very entertaining and we had some great spells of possession and slick passing in the first half. Hopefully if this kind of performance becomes the norm we will see fans coming back and making the effort for the longer distance away games.

Substitutions

The only thing I have got to moan about really is the timing and choice of substitutions. What exactly are Morrison and Robson-Kanu going to achieve when brought on in injury time?

I wish Pulis would be a bit more proactive in this area, as he always appears to be hesitant to change anything even when we can see that the pressure is building against us and we begin sitting back. Several times I have noticed he has had substitutes ready on the touchline and then we have conceded while he has hesitated.

As I say this is a small gripe in the grand scheme of things and I am very pleased with the overall performance against Sunderland.

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WHAM!

Pulling results out of the bag

Todays’s game against West Ham came as a surprise for most, but one of the reasons Pulis is still in management after all these years is the ability to pull results out of the bag when on a bad run. You will never lose several games on the bounce under Pulis.

The problem is – this is exactly the point the “anti Pulis” contingent have been trying to make. These footballers and this squad are not as crap as TP would make everyone believe. His excuse for his usual awful, defensive style is that “this is the hardest job he’s had”. He has managed to brainwash the media into thinking this, but we can see that is simply not true. We have seen we can play. We know we can play. That’s why it annoys us so much to see us sitting back against the likes of Northampton and Sunderland.

Another ploy TP uses is always bigging up the opposition, their players and how much they have spent in his pre and post match press conferences. This adds to the illusion that Pulis is doing such a good job at tiny, penniless, unambitious West Brom.

We always seem to pull a good performance out if the bag whenever Pulis is feeling the pressure, as well as when playing one of his former sides like Palace. This to me says our restrictive play is totally down to him. If he can go for it in these games why can’t we go for it a bit more often? We aren’t asking to play like Barcelona, just for Pulis to be reasonable against teams we are perfectly capable of beating.

An excellent performance all round

Despite all of the above, I am very very happy with the performance today. That is probably the best performance I have seen under Pulis. I think Nacer Chadli is exactly what we have been missing for a long time. I can’t really fault anyone today but McClean, Chadli and Rondon get special mentions. Some really excellent saves from Foster prevented us being even more nervous in the closing stages.

I think the crowd also got well behind the team today. It works both ways. We try to back the team regardless but show us style and passing like that and we will respond. We understand we are not Brazil but we don’t want to sit there thinking about all the other stuff we could be getting done on a Saturday. For once I agree with Pulis – today was very entertaining. That is all we’re asking for.

It was good to see Robson-Kanu and Nyom getting some game time. They both look good. It’s not their fault that we were expecting some higher profile names. I think they are solid additions and will be able to contribute a great deal throughout the season.