A player trying to orchestrate his own move away from the club, one sent off for spitting and another swearing at his own fans - it’s been a hectic week at West Brom, writes blogger Warren Stephens.
It's a week that has thrust us into the national spotlight and, coupled with a poor run of form, has posed the first serious test of Steve Clarke’s managerial credentials.
I was slumped against a bar in Poland last Thursday evening and couldn’t follow the live TV footage of Peter Odemwingie’s late-night cruise around west London but by all accounts it was pretty embarrassing.
The outcome left me with conflicting thoughts on the matter. I felt a great sense of pride that the club had so resiliently fended off the wishes of Odemwingie and Harry Redknapp, particularly given QPR’s pursuit was so media-orientated and potentially done without Albion’s blessing.
There is no player bigger than the club, Odemwingie signed a contract and in my opinion there are too many examples in modern football of player rather than club deciding whether that contract is honoured.
However, I also wondered if it was the best move practically and economically. Keeping Odemwingie until the end of July will reportedly cost Albion around £1m in wages, a period in which he quite conceivably may contribute nothing towards the club should he remain frozen out.
Add the £3m we might have received in fees and the net difference begins to build. A lot will obviously depend on the likelihood of any reintegration into the first-team squad.
Perhaps most importantly we hadn’t found a replacement despite a late pursuit of Junior Hoilett, a swap which I wouldn’t have been too disappointed with.
In this respect the club must surely be applauded, none of us would have been pleased with a repeat of the 2006 transfer window when both Robert Earnshaw and Geoff Horsfield left near the end without being replaced.
In terms of transfers in I don’t think any of us were surprised to see that we didn’t sign anybody. We know the club’s stance on January transfers and frustrating as it may be, it is a fairly pragmatic approach.
Zoltan Gera’s absence and a saddening injury to the unfortunate George Thorne have left us a little thin on the ground, hopefully returning players will see us through.
I would now hope that Steve Clarke is given reasonable backing in the summer transfer window to mould his own squad.
Goran Popov made the headlines for spitting at Kyle Walker, earning a red card that cost us a potential result against Tottenham on Sunday.
I think most of us would agree that spitting is a pretty detestable thing to do, although I must admit I wasn’t aware that spitting in somebody’s direction constituted violent conduct.
Regardless, it was silly and changed the dynamics of what had been a competitive game.
Without particularly defending his actions, and I’m no expert in Macedonian culture, I suspect spitting is something we frown upon on these islands more than in other parts of the world.
Goran’s since apologised to team-mates and fans, he’s got a three-match ban, lost his first-team place and jeopardised his summer move; I don’t see any value in chastising him any further.
Jonas Olsson also caused a stir by reacting to fans in the Smethwick End with a ‘salute’ during Sunday’s game.
He’s a professional and you could argue that he should have more respect for the supporters who pay to watch him and be mindful that he’s a role model for young children. However, he’s a passionate man.
It's something we don’t want to detract from his game and, if I’m brutally honest, I’d probably like to swear at some of our more critical supporters for the way they have treated our players in recent games.
There’s been a suggestion the aforementioned incidents are symptomatic of an issue with discipline at the club.
I don’t buy this, Odemwingie has never come across as a steady character and cited issues before Clarke’s arrival for him wanting to leave.
I’d be very surprised if we saw Popov spit at anybody again and I can recall Olsson having a similar altercation with fans at Coventry a few years ago, it will undoubtedly have no effect on his performances going forward.
For me, Clarke’s issue is on the field where Albion could really do with a win. In truth, I don’t think performances have been that bad.
Indeed, I don’t think we could’ve done a lot differently against Spurs and small details changed the game at Everton, both top six sides.
We have also been plagued with injuries in recent weeks, it’s been more than two months since Gareth McAuley, Olsson, Claudio Yacob, Youssouf Mulumbu and Shane Long started a game together and I think we have to remember that.
You only have to look at Newcastle this season or Birmingham when they got relegated to understand the profound effect key injuries can have on team with limited resources.
Hopefully with players now returning, Mulumbu the latest, we can get back to somewhere near our early-season form.
Lest we forget that 12 months ago we’d just lost at home to Swansea and were languishing in 15th place. This can still turn out to be a very good season, especially if we get behind them.
Come on you Baggies!
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