Moving on up?

Our new counter attacking style

Tony Pulis is in his 25th year of management, and in this game you don’t last that long without being effective. Over those years he has built a reputation for his physical and direct football style – preferring not to utilise full backs and relying on set pieces. This is what frustrated us last season, with Rondon always on his own and half a mile away from everyone else, who sat in their defensive formation while teams came at us over and over.

Since October, something has changed. We still don’t mind letting the opposition have the ball, but we are moving the ball around with much more haste, keeping possession a lot better and getting the ball out to our wingers quickly to set up effective counter attacks. We are now trying to go forward and trying to win games, and we have put in several excellent performances in the past few weeks. We are also now utilising Rondon’s greatest strength – his quality in the air – as proven by his amazing 13 minute header hat trick against Swansea.

Long may it continue!

Players on form

It was only a few weeks ago where some were stating that we had purchased duds in acquiring Phillips and Nyom. It appears they have now settled and grown in confidence and have been two of our stand out performers in recent weeks.

Chadli and Evans have kept up their usual high standard, and with Brunt and Fletcher returning to good form we have a team very much in the zone and high on confidence at the moment.

However, I am still a bit concerned about the depth of our squad. We have one of the oldest squads in the league and don’t have quality cover for all positions. This has been caused by several windows of buying back up players and ‘getting by’, rather than replacements for our regular starters. For example – he has been an excellent servant for us, but Olsson shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team any more. It is going to take several windows to rectify the squad situation, but hopefully we will get a few January reinforcements.

Daring to dream?

Many reports have suggested that Pulis’ new target under the new regime is to steadily improve and get in to that top ten, and even rumours that Europe might be on their radar. The calibre of player we are rumoured to be seeking in January, plus Leicester showing last season what a settled team high on confidence can achieve, means we would be forgiven of daring to dream.

Pulis will never win over some fans; they have grudges that can’t be overcome. But the rest of us have just been asking for a bit more attacking intent and setting out to win against teams around us in the league, and right now that is exactly what we’re getting.

Big Sam and other Telegraph revelations

Entrapment v Public Interest

The definition of ‘entrapment journalism’ is creating a situation “which draws someone into misconduct which would not have happened but for the journalist”. Journalists don’t go around trying to sting every high profile person, only those they know are susceptible to their advances. For me, no one forced Allardyce or his representatives to attend those meetings, or to start advising on how to bend rules, or try and make an extra £400k. If it had happened to be people who weren’t journalists proposing a similar scheme to Allardyce, he would have still said and done the same things. The fact they were journalists doing covert filming is irrelevant, in my opinion.

The whole Telegraph series of revelations is very much in the public interest. Corruption has gone on far too long in this game. Fans want to know why agent fees and player wages are ever increasing, but the cost of following our team is too. The fact the football agent industry is no longer properly regulated means anyone can pay a fee and start harvesting money from our game.

It seems as though this revelation came near the end of the Telegraph’s 10 month long investigation into corruption in English football. It isn’t like their entire mission in all of this was to bring down the England manager. I think they got a massive bonus when Sam agreed to attend these meetings.

Bye Bye, Big Sam

I have always quite liked Allardyce. Being Dudley born like myself, I was quite proud that someone from these parts could turn out to be so successful in football. Although rumour has it that he is a Dingle by heart, at one point I wouldn’t have minded him becoming Albion manager. I was really proud that a Black Country Mon had become England manager.

Now, I feel embarassed for him to be honest. When managers get sacked, the issues are usually discussed behind closed doors. Allardyce has been shown to be naive, greedy and quite stupid in front of the whole country and footballing world. He says he will never quit football but surely he needs to stay out of the public eye until January, at least.

His LMA position is also now in jeopardy, and he is also facing a possible disciplinary process from the FA. All for the sake of £400k.

On the side dealings now appear to be the norm

Last night the Telegraph continued with their next round of stings. One thing that is becoming obvious from managers’ comments is that (as we all knew) side dealings have become the norm in this game. The majority of these managers can’t see that they have done anything wrong, as backhanders have become the usual practice in the top leagues of our game.

The reason us as fans are so annoyed with all of this is the high costs for us normal working class people to follow the team we love. We are shelling out hundreds or thousands of pounds out each season to line managers’ and agents’ pockets.

Who’s next?

I obviously need to be very careful what I say here as it is all speculation at this moment in time. I am expecting to see a certain owner of a financially savvy dog being exposed. Also, based on things Dave Kitson has previously said, possibly a certain tracksuit clad individual whose transfers and utilisation of his squad don’t make sense a lot of the time.