West Brom blog: Bring on United

Surely even the harshest of critics must appreciate how we have gone about our business in the last three Premier League games? Dare I say it has been exciting to watch?

SOCCER - Premier League - West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City
Tony Pulis, Albion head coach.

On the back of a gritty victory at an in form Everton came a pulsating contest (in the league) with Crystal Palace...writes Albion blogger Duncan Hodgkiss.

They are having a bad trot currently but still produced a spirited second half display, despite being completely outplayed and three goals down in the first half.

The Palace fight back underlines the fact of just how competitive a league this is. Nothing can be taken for granted and every victory should be savoured.

We effectively set up with a three pronged attack, which morphed into a 4-5-1 when under pressure. The first half was a complete display of power, aggression and dominance. Our front three ran Palace ragged as they failed to deal with the intelligent and powerful running of Rondon and the subtle interchanges between Sessegnon and Berahino.

It was a showing that must have had the purists purring, capped by a wonderful through ball by Sess and finish past the hapless Hennessey by Berahino for our third. The Hawthorns must not hold too many happy memories for Hennessey, long may that continue.

In the second half we sat back a little but still looked very dangerous on the break. We could, and possibly should, have extended our lead on a number of occasions, only to be thwarted by the frame of the goal and bad luck.

A bad mistake by Olsson and a very well struck second by Wickham ensured a nervy ending to a cracking game. The excellent Gardner clearing off the line to preserve our lead at the death.

Just a side note on Olsson. Not the best performance against Palace and a little shaky against Leicester (who is comfortable against Vardy and co?) and the pension brokers are out in force on social media again. Are they on commission? It is worth remembering the all action ‘man of the match’ performance at Everton prior to this that secured an unlikely victory for us. A spent force he isn’t.

Onto the Leicester game and another fantastic display of courage, determination and graft saw us secure a very respectable point, where many others have failed this season.

Rondon is now demonstrating his full array of attributes, he shrugged of Huth with ease and slotted home to put us a goal to the good. We were a touch unlucky with their equaliser, a cruel deflection looping over Foster giving them the initiative.

Sessegnon collected a booking for arguing with the linesman which was ridiculous considering the shocking challenge he had just endured from Fuchs. Pulis was clearly incensed by this, surely there must be grounds for appeal given the nature of the challenge?

Leicester continued to press and got themselves in front with a great team goal. It cranked the already fever pitch atmosphere up a few notches and set the tone for an Alamo style assault on our goal in the second period.

A little bit of luck coupled with concentration and determination kept Leicester at bay. Vardy looked every bit the player people are talking about this season, he was a constant menace and at times unplayable. He will surely move on next season.

We equalised with a superb strike from Gardner, who must have thought his luck was in, going close with a couple of long range attempts when others were possibly better placed to receive a pass.

We now sit comfortably in 13th on 36 points with 10 games remaining. This is a great achievement and should not be sniffed at. It should allow us to play with a bit of freedom and really push for our record of 49 points in a season which is very achievable.

It would be typical of our fortunes to exceed this target and see Pulis leave in the summer. I hope not but remain doubtful he will stay on.

Duncan Hodgkiss

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Comments for: "West Brom blog: Bring on United"

Inthenameofsanity

Well I certainly hope Pulis doesn't leave in the summer as some on here wish. I can't understand the Pulis out brigade at all. I'm sure some think we have the squad to pass around and play free flowing attacking football all the time. We have to face up to the facts that results will have to come ahead of pretty football. I for one feel that with this squad we are over achieving and this has got to be down to Pulis. The Pulis doubters need to be careful what they wish for. It looks like Steve McClaren will be out of a job at Newcastle and I certainly wouldn't want him anywhere near the Hawthorns! Over and oot!

Bromham Baggie

Being a typical half empty baggie I'm sure that this solid run is just going to lead up to us being slapped around by the cockney reds, sorry Manchester Reds.

Duncan, I enjoyed this blog and again it seems to be pretty much on the button from my point of view. I particularly liked your view concerning Jonas Olsson.

Whatever the result I'll be interested to hear what the pundits will have to say about Louis Van Gaal - 'He'll have to go now, blah blah...' or 'Yes, he's really turned them round blah blah...' and 'By the way, who were they playing?'

Ant Baggie

Excellent Blog Duncan,

You've pretty much said everything I was thinking,.... I hope your wrong about the last bit though, cos I would be a bit worried if that happend, so I'm sorry but I hope your wrong on that one mate.

CantelloRocket 78

Some may say it's only these recent games that's completely changed the mood - probably true, because one late goal in a game can instantly change the mood of thousands - so we have to be careful not getting too carried away, as a poor performance and/or result today would undoubtably have the critics stampeding back in droves - in reality you always have to stay balanced and focused-

having said that, on a personal level I've often attempted to 'get inside the mind' of Tony Pulis, in order to make sense of what he does, or appears to be aiming at, and I always felt there was an intended target, in which case I also believe he still restlessly wishes to reach that 'target' or 'outcome', depending on how things progress between now and the Summer, and his relationship with Jeremy Peace.

Even the best Head Coaches make mistakes, or bring in players that don't work out, you just hope the majority DO make the grade - keeping it simple, earlier in the season Salomon Rondon didn't have an effective, 'up to speed' partner up front, now he currently has Berahino 'getting his head and fitness together', Sess playing some of the best and most consistent football of his career, whilst at the back, James Chester is now looking much more settled, confident, and buying into the 'team mentality'.

We don't know what the future holds, but if the remainder of the season turns out reasonably good - and indications are that JP doesn't expect to sell the club in the immediate future - then I see a strong possibility that JP and TP will sit down to plan our next campaign together in the Summer, with both having to make a few consessions and compromise in how we move forward.

The final 10 games will be very, very interesting indeed.....

CantelloRocket 78

p.s. - I initially missed Duncan's final sentence, but as I say, both JP and TP like to take control, yet as they get older and 'mellow' slightly, perhaps they'll agree to yield a little and compromise - as both could lose more by separating than by sticking together...

1968

I am optimistic Rocket that this season is, if it is remembered for anything, it is that it has further solidified our status in the premiership and served as a platform for TP (hopefully) and JP to strategise the next steps in edging us nearer to the upper echelons. However, with the injury list we have now, I think supporters will need to be very patient and get behind the team every time they turn out, and yes that includes Jonas!

When I think of the recent past seasons, for me, this time around it has been a great feat of management to get us where we are now, and like most I was impressed by the way our forwards finally clicked and linked up against Palace. Perhaps we have now turned that particular corner in solving our effectiveness in the last third, but as one problem is solved it seems, we are landed with another as Brunty is sidelined (all the best to him)! As you say; an interesting last 10 games. Onwards and upwards!

Ant Baggie

A good point about Olsson, he deserves an enormous amount of respect off the fans in my eyes, likes others he's been a brilliant servant for us. And I think TP has done a great job for us this season. I can't believe the negativity, the abusive name calling and unfair Criticism of some of the players and head coach. It wasn't so long ago when Albion fans imo used to be proud of our clubs achievements, but it just seems expectations have gone unrealistic imo. I still believe we're in transition and there's a chance we could get better, but overall I think we've done really well this season all things considered. No one can question the effort TP and the players have put in.

Warren

I agree that the outlook is positive at the moment but would reserve the gushing praise just yet. Palace was excellent - as well as we've played all season - but so was West Ham in the cup last year. Our approach at Leicester was symptomatic of how we played at Chelsea, and Everton - well that could arguably have been many of our away performances since TP's arrival, we just scored early and defended what we had, well.

Okay, so none of those are bad comparisons but I guess what I'm saying is that I don't necessarily think we've 'turned a corner' so to speak, just hit a high point in the natural fluctuations we've seen under TP's regime.

Whenever in the past we've played so purposefully as we have in the last 2 games, we've tended to follow it up by going 'back to basics' in subsequent games. Almost as if to suggest that TP is uncomfortable that we've played so openly. It'll be interesting to see our approach in upcoming games, maybe TP will let us off the leash a little now we're virtually safe.

I guess Albion supporters will still have to ask themselves, are we happy to accept TP's substance over style again next season? If the vitriol we saw at Reading and Newcastle is only simmering under the surface, then we've got some big decisions ahead in the summer.

I'd still like to see a bit more from Rondon. He was an ever-present in a team that finished 4th in La Liga and matched Hulk at Zenit - he has something, I just don't think we're playing to his strengths.

Re: Sessegnon, you can't appeal a yellow card I don't think and Hennessey saved a penalty for Wolves at the Hawthorns a few seasons ago - I don't think it's necessarily been an unhappy hunting ground for him unless I've forgotten something? I'm sure he'd like to forget the 5-1 at Molineux though!

Ant Baggie

Hi Warren,

I must say I used to enjoy reading your excellent thought out blogs too. For me from a side that could quite possibly gone down last season, I think TP's done a good job. Yes people will say about the style of football at times. But I'm hoping we can get the balance right that makes all the fans happy. But in the main I'm grateful it looks like we'll have another season of premier league football.

Warren

Cheers Ant, much appreciated.

I actually agree that TP has done a good job - certainly achieved what he came here to do.

My concern is that we get carried away by the inevitable fluctuations over a season. Things are great at the moment but what will happen when we go 4 games without a win in September and don't look like scoring? Will people be chanting for his head again? Will the atmosphere become poisonous? The vitriol never seems far from the surface where TP is concerned.

I've read 'Pulis out' about 400 times this season on various forums but never a realistic replacement.

Like you, I hope he can continue to find the right balance but I think if the Premier League has taught us anything it's that it won't stay this easy and/or enjoyable for long.......

Baggie 68

Tony Pulis its time for me to apologise and to say well done you have proved me wrong.

I was one of those supporters who wanted you as a Manager of the Albion ( I do not like the term Head Coach I am old fashioned in that way). However after a few months I had started to criticise your continued defensive play and of what appeared to be boring football. I was hoping for great defensive play coupled with attacking football and was disappointed with just the defensive side I did not take into account your tactics of building up a solid defence and a great clean sheet record I was too impatient.

I think what frustrated me the most was that you were only playing Rondon on his own up front which did not seem to be working and he looked like a poor signing. The same can be said about James Chester I thought that he was poor when he was played out of position and I also thought that he was a poor signing.

But fair play Tony I was wrong and you were right. Rondon is now looking the business especially now he has linked up with Berahino and Sessegnon its a pity that Saido will still want to go in the Summer it would have been great if he would stay. Sessegnon is playing well and I hope that he is not moving on as well. James Chester is taking to his new left back position very well and is proving to be another good signing.

I am looking forward to this afternoons game against Manchester United 3 points for us hopefully, especially after the great away draw against Leicester on Tuesday it was another great Team effort well done to all the players it was a fantastic game.

Once more well done Tony I will be hoping that you stay with the Albion as you have done well.

C'mon you Baggies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ant Baggie

Good points Baggie 68,

I agree with a lot what you have said, whatever happens today? I just think We've almost achieved what we set out to do in one of, if not the most competitive league in the world. And like some have said be careful what you wish for.