Right, this is beginning to get a bit silly, writes West Bromwich Albion blogger Warren Stephens.
Albion beat the European Champions and move into the Champions League places. Have we become lost in somebody’s game of Football Manager or next week’s edition of Roy of the Rovers??
I keep expecting to wake up, switch on the television and see a picture of a gleaming Tim Buzaglo clutching a match ball, or a coffin being carried across the pitch towards Bobby Gould.
These are rewarding times for Baggies supporters, as rewarding as they’ve ever been for anybody who doesn’t remember The Magic Roundabout or Joe Dolce. Perhaps the most remarkable part of our ascent is that few neutral observers could argue that we don’t deserve to be there.
Under Steve Clarke’s governance, with a little help from his predecessors, Albion have evolved into a ruthless, well-oiled machine, persistent and resolute without the ball, explosive and clinical with it.
Chelsea, led by former manager Roberto Di Matteo, became the latest victims on Saturday. At times we rode our luck - there’s a fair chance that Daniel Sturridge will be doing some work on his finishing in training this week - but Albion’s sheer industry was admirable and deserving of a result.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Peter Odemwingie put as many tackles in. You might argue that if he did that every week, then coupled with his undoubted ability he’d be worth £30 million, but then again if he did that every week, I’m not sure his career would have led him to B71.
I certainly hope we see more of it though, it’s certainly an endorsement of Steve Clarke’s man management that his players are displaying such desire.
Gabriel Tamas, whose Albion career has so often been written off by fans and management alike, was imperious in Gareth McAuley’s absence. That the fringe players are contributing so diligently is perhaps an indication of the spirit in the Albion camp at the moment.
After the game Steve Clarke surmised that Albion supporters might begin to ‘dream a little’. So dare we?
Well let’s be honest, a top four (or even top six finish) remains highly improbable. A top-half finish would probably represent a very good return for a club of Albion’s stature. You might also speculate that if Albion were to lose Ben Foster, Jonas Olsson, Gareth McAuley, Claudio Yacob, Youssouf Mulumbu or Shane Long to long-term injury, this could potentially have a profound effect on the functionality of the side.
The last time we had the opportunity to move into fourth place in the Premier League in November, coincidentally under Roberto Di Matteo, we reached mid-February of the same season in seventeenth place. Whilst it’s difficult to envisage a similar capitulation this time around, it may be prudent for us not to become too engrossed in the idea of European qualification just yet.
So where next? Trips to Sunderland and Swansea loom. At the start of this month, I felt that a win, draw and defeat from our three away games would represent a moderate return. We’ve already won at Wigan and gained an unexpected three points in the home game against Chelsea, anything else really will be a bonus.
Sunderland ominously gained their first away league win last weekend and Swansea are in good form after holding Chelsea and beating Newcastle, so as ever in this division neither game will be easy.
A two-or-three-point return would certainly represent a positive return in my opinion, I’m sure I’m not the only Albion supporter who doesn’t want this run (or the current league table) to end/change.
A few more days like last Saturday and perhaps we can begin to dream. Come on you Baggies!!
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