A nice trip to the library

All the bloody M6 traffic on the way to and from Anfield made Saturday a very long day….

Stadium full of tourists

Apart from the usual pre-match rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, and a couple of cries of ‘Liverpool’, the Liverpool fans might as well have not been there. Our away following on the other hand was back to its best, with the team being backed throughout and some rather funny chants at our own expense.

I was quite amused to see the look on the faces of the home fans in the Main Stand looking rather confused at these away fans who were having a laugh regardless, and still backing our team at 2-0 down. To these tourists who pay to only see entertainment and pretty much want to be guaranteed to see a win, people who just love their club and who can laugh at themselves must seem really strange.

Missed the bloody goal

So, at 80 minutes I decided to pop to the toilet to avoid getting lost at full time and not being able to find my way back to the coach. During this I heard a massive cheer go up as Gareth McAuley pulled us one back. When I returned to my seat it was 2-1 and Liverpool were looking a bit nervous. Things were still very end to end up until the final whistle, but you could feel Klopp’s and Liverpool’s nervousness as Albion had nothing to lose by going for it.

Honorable mentions

It was good to see Robson-Kanu getting longer than his token 1-2 minutes of stoppage time he usually gets. I am not sure what Pulis is expecting him to achieve in 1-2 minutes, so I presume it is usually a time wasting tactic or something. In this instance it was due to an injury to McClean. He didn’t do too bad and would be an obvious choice against Man City if McClean doesn’t recover from his leg gash in time. (Update: McClean has had his leg wound stitched and will be OK for Man City game)

Ben Foster once again pulled off some inexplicable saves, and our defence wasn’t too bad in general considering we only conceded two despite Liverpool’s seven shots on target. The main problems came from giving Liverpool too much respect and space, and losing possession far too easily when we managed to get the ball.

Darren Fletcher’s form has been nowhere near that of when he first joined, yet still there was news last month that he is to be offered a contract extension. Pulis is obviously reluctant to drop our captain, but it needs to happen at some point if it continues.

When Brunt is out you forget how important he is to our team and what a difference he can make. He is the best crosser of the ball in our entire squad. I am glad he is back as we will score a lot more goals from set pieces. Don’t forget that the last time he played a full season he got 10 assists.

Remembering Hillsborough

When Liverpool came to our place earlier this year, there was a lot of coverage of the club’s gesture to change 96 blue seats to red, each marked with a name of someone who went to a football match but never came home. This gesture was very much appreciated by the friends and families of those affected by the Hillsborough tragedy.

On Saturday, the banner that was displayed in our home fixture was ceremoniously placed next to the Hillsborough memorial outside of Anfield by two baggies Mick and John. There hasn’t been a lot of media coverage but it has been mentioned and appreciated all over social media. There have been so many comments from Liverpool fans about how respectful and considerate WBA fans are, so I just wanted to mention these great gestures and how proud I am of West Bromwich Albion and our amazing fans.

Spurred On

One Ben Foster

Ben Foster put in an excellent shot stopping performance against Tottenham. The way he got across his goal at times to keep Spurs out was exceptional.

Without a doubt we should have been 3-0 down at least by half time, considering the pressure Spurs were putting us under at times during the first half. Foster rightly won match of the match, although I thought Tottenham were not as potent in front of goal as their recent form suggests.

Conceding possession

In the car after the game, I kept hearing TalkSport making a point of us conceding over 70% possession to Tottenham. Yes we get frustrated if we are doing this kind of thing against the likes of Northampton, but I saw no problem with going with this approach today. Tottenham are on very good form so far, having only conceded 3 goals in the league until Saturday.

Keeping things tight while conceding possession and utilising set pieces is exactly what Pulis does and is the reason he is still managing in this league after all these years. I even commented on the half time stats that they looked like Spurs were about to be “Pulised”. People only get frustrated when he keeps the same approach against teams we are capable of taking the game to.

In games against top teams or teams on a great run of form, letting them have the ball and then hitting them on the break is the way to go. Leicester won a bloody title doing it!

Substitutions

It isn’t Gardner’s fault – and it may not even be Pulis’ fault – but when the inevitable Gardner substitution is made it appears to signal to the team to sit back and hold on. We always seem more likely to concede when he does this, as it changes the dynamic of the team near the end of games. I can’t say that different substitutions would have resulted in 3 points, but it does frustrate me that we become disjointed and invite the opposition onto us when he makes certain substitutions.

Some of his substitutions are very suitable and work out well. Without the introduction of Brunt on Saturday the goal wouldn’t have come about. But even then Pulis appears very indecisive about his subs. At one point Morrison was changed and ready, then Leko, then Robsob-Kanu on three occasions before sitting back down again. Games obviously develop and he may change his mind, but on a few occasions we have conceded during this faffing about. I just wish Pulis would be more decisive and positive about his substitutions.

“Irrelevant” Albion

blog

 

 

 

 

 

I think neutrals and opposition fans see what they want to see most of the time. The Pulis team tag means that there’s already an assumption of hoofball, time wasting and playing dirty. Yes I admit we are these things at times, but even after the performance against West Ham there were comments about how boring and negative and dirty we supposedly are.

I find it funny when people throw out the “irrelevant” insult at us  – which they do more often than not because we have taken points off them. It’s like anyone who is not competing for the top 6 should turn up and attack the big teams and end up conceding 5 goals for the good of the game and for a more dramatic title race. We can’t be that irrelevant if we piss people off so much!

The media will also moan because letting the opposition play in front of you and keeping things tight doesn’t make good highlights or talking points for their radio and TV shows. Yes we haven’t won anything in a long while, and we are one of the “just there” Premier League teams, but you can say that about half of the teams in this league.