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Terry’s Baggies Blog

A STROLL BESIDE THE THAMES

21-02-2009

Terry Wills

With Albion lining up against Fulham in Sunday's televised lunchtime fixture, the nation's gaze will be fixed on their relegation struggle. Terry Wills weighs up the likelihood of survival.

Fourteen days without a game meant the Baggies struggle to stay in the Premiership couldn’t deteriorate any further! But following the international break the uphill battle is back on with a vengeance. Starting with Sunday’s trip to Craven Cottage for a reunion with an in form Fulham and old boy favourite Zoltan Gera. A victory would be a fantastic performance BUT whether they can beg, borrow, or steal a single point is open to question.

At least the break to sunny Spain away from the dank miserable weather in the UK had to be a strong psychological tonic in itself. That apart from the bonus of allowing some of the ‘walking’ wounded valuable recuperation time in their attempts to regain something approaching full fitness.

Unquestionably Tony Mowbray has found himself backed into a corner with no visible way to turn wondering what measures can be taken to reduce the odds against the Baggies sliding into the ‘Fizzy Pop’ League.

Jonas Olsoon has been sadly missed and with Ryan Donk, Meite, Pele, and Leon Barnett all struggling to hold down a regular starting place, his commanding presence highlighted that a team, conceding nearly two goals per game, will face opponents feeling they’re capable of increasing a tally that’s had much to do with Albion’s inadequate 22 points bottom of the table return.

True the likes of Stoke, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Newcastle, Bolton, Spurs, and Portsmouth, plus a clutch of clubs who could still find themselves in serious trouble will also be scanning their fixtures in the attempt to see just where the necessary points can be garnished that COULD eventually lead to Premiership survival.

Naturally supporters of every club realise the importance of winning their home games but in Albion’s case, even if they do, looking at the away fixtures, and taking into account the performances to date, it doesn’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence.

Following Fulham they travel to Goodison Park to face the very impressive Everton.

Not easy - for proof ask Villa supporters! Then comes a televised match against a much improved West Ham United rounded off by four games against teams, who based on current form will also be desperate for points. These being Portsmouth, Manchester City, Tottenham and for the LAST game of the season Blackburn Rovers!

But let’s not be to pessimistic (!) with 39 points still up for grabs it IS far to early to anticipate just what will happen, reference the First (lets hope there’s to be a Second) Great Escape.

Much will depend on the form and fitness of loaned players Jay Simpson and Marc –Antoine Fortune. Both have shown they can score goals and for sure if playing together, plus the determined efforts of Roman Bednar if and when chosen (?), they could turn out to be two ‘aces’ in Albion’s single pack!

Then there are the two, as yet unseen, talents of Youssouf Mulumbu and Carlos Menseguez. The question from supporters “ Do they figure in Tony Mowbray’s immediate plans?”

Recruited and described as ‘ players for the future’ (will they be ‘thrown’ into a relegation battle, with no experience of the pace and graft needed to compete in a total different footballing environment?) it’ll be interesting to see how Mogga’ decides to ‘tinker’ with his ‘League of Nations’ squad who realise relegation will halve their current Premiership salaries.

As always only time will tell and first up comes the Sunday’s visit to Craven Cottage.

A ground still ‘fondly’ retaining features that many ‘veteran’ (!) fans prefer to the modern stadiums all seemingly cloned from the same set of architectural plans!

Add to that, weather permitting, enjoying a pleasant ‘stroll’ along the banks of the River Thames and the scene will be set in anticipation of watching yet another game that could possibly lead to Tony Mowbray uttering “Our season starts here”?!

“Come on you Baggies”

CAN THE BAGGIES STAY UP? DISCUSS THIS ON THE SEASON 08/09 THREAD ON THE STIRRER FORUM

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