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Terry’s Baggies Blog

A TITANIC PERFORMANCE

05-03-2009

Yep... like the classic liner, The Baggies are going down reckons Terry Wills.

Infuriating, Frustrating, Maddening, Unforgivable, you name it and it summed up the Baggies performance at Goodison Park, whoops sorry I should have added an extra word…SURPRISING!

Before the game there weren’t many fans prepared to ‘admit’ to feeling Tony Mowbray’s ‘free falling’ team were capable of causing an upset. Together we wandered around the back streets of another ‘traditional’ ground that must be Premiership League Champions for housing the number of fast food outlets competing for match day custom?

Chatting to the usual band of away day travellers, plus ‘Mr X’ there was a common thought that this game would be any different to many others.

The Baggies would/could have lots of possession, create and miss chances, concede at least one ‘Mickey Mouse’ goal and finish up clambering aboard their luxurious coach for the ride back home knowing another defeat had sent them one match closer to Championship football.

Said Mr X “For me the result of any game is determined by what happens in the two most important areas of the pitch. Defending as needed and taking chances when they come along. What goes on in midfield counts for nothing, all the possession in the world won’t win you games”

Who was Mr X? ..Answer later!

So it was that each of the aforementioned elements came to pass highlighted by the word surprising. That coming as we ‘sat back’ admiring the ability of the midfield domination. The Toffees frequently finding themselves in ‘sticky’ situations via the quality of the Baggies passing and movement but predictably the chances created weren’t put away which inevitably led to the ‘damning’ elements coming to the fore.

A set piece - no surprise -THREE unmarked players, what’s new - Scott Carson as ‘usual’ no confidence or judgement in deciding whether to come or stay, and there was Tim Cahill waiting more than happy to nod the opening goal.

The rest of the game followed in a similar vein. Easy on the eye passing but a stomach churning frustrating feeling in the pit of the stomach as Louis Saha settled the game with a wonderful goal that defences far better organised than Albion’s wouldn’t have prevented.

Not that the Baggies gave up the ghost, far from it. Luke Moore on as a substitute showing a rare trait. Running at defenders and desperately unlucky to see a shot hit the underside of the bar with the keeper beaten.
Another promising situation when a header seemingly destined for a certain goal was ‘miraculously’ cleared off the line. Filipe Teixeira another very late sub twisting and turning past defenders causing problems but it was all to late.
The final whistle, a 2-0 defeat and the pre match opinion, shared by many, of Mr X, proving all to true.

It was illuminating to read the thoughts of Everton skipper Phil Neville who candidly admitted the Toffees had been lucky “We were battered. It was the toughest game we’ve had since the turn of the year. And the poorest we’ve played. We had a big slice of luck and we’ll take it”

(Thanks for the honesty Phil but it was no consolation for Albion fans)

Oh yes the identity of the mysterious Mr X? A certain Graham Williams who knows what’s needed to win games, and conversely what’s lacking if defeats of this nature are to be avoided.

Where does this leave West Brom as regards staying in the Premiership”? Asked the reporter of the Sunday Observer (my turn on a rota to make post match comments).

The answer “Without a massive change of fortunes there’s more chance of a colour blind individual solving the puzzle of the Rubik Cube than Tony Mowbray keeping Albion in the Premiership”

This defeat coupled with teams around picking up points in effect left Albion five points adrift from the dreaded three relegation spots and a home game against Arsenal next on the horizon. Hardly encouraging even taking into account the Gunners firing blanks in their four previous matches.

So to Tuesday and being honest walking through the city centre amid a chill blustery wind and pouring rain (witness the number of wrecked discarded umbrellas) I reluctantly had to admit the Hawthorns was the last place I wanted to visit.

Despite the Everton result the overall performance did give a smidgen of hope of ‘possibly’ achieving a result PROVIDING the defence had been ordered back to school for a sharp intensive lesson of what being a defender literally means.

Namely NOT ALLOWING OPPOSITION THE FREEDOM TO DO AS THEY PLEASE - COMPETING FOR EVERY 50/50 BALL AT SET PIECES REALISING THEY HAVE TO MARK CLOSELY AND NOT STAND BY ADMIRING THE NIGHT SKY WHILE OPPONENTS GLEEFULLY TAKE ADVANTAGE.

What a hope confirmed as centre backs Meitie, and Donk in conjunction with Paul Robinson stood off to confirm they simply aren’t good enough for Premiership football. Add Scott Carson’s usual uncertainty, although he did make some fine saves, and the result finally convinced me, and listening to post match comments from other supporters, that they’d lost any self belief that we could stave off relegation with a second ‘Great Escape’.

What had started as a slow leak in the bowels of HMS Albion had turned into a major breach. They were sinking faster than the legendary Titanic and no amount of ‘May day, May day’ calls from Captain Tony Mowbray at the helm could save them.

Each of Arsenal’s three goals were perfect examples in how NOT to defend and repeated blank looks of astonishment on the faces of Baggies bewildered defenders merely confirmed that no amount of reproach from the manager can disguise the truth that Albion AT PRESENT simply aren’t capable of competing in the highest grade of English football.

A brief look at the few plus points. Luke Moore as at Everton, at long last actually looked interested in playing in an Albion shirt. Mark Antoine Fortune never stopped challenging and always looked a threat although his finishing tended to negate this willingness. Ditto Robert Koren, again giving maximum effort and a player to be relied on when backs are to the wall.

Strangely if I hadn’t been at the game but simply a neutral supporter watching the lengthy highlights on Sky Sports, my impression would have been that the Baggies, up to the second ‘give away’ goal, were well in the game.

Indeed they were but truthfully if the skilful, talented, slick-passing Arsenal had taken all their chances our already horrendous ‘Goals Against’ column would have been considerably worse.

So for me that’s it. I cannot envisage any scenario that can stave off relegation however hard I try. Although mathematically of course it is still possible.

A note for the ‘Stirrer’ readers who also have allegiance to the Baggies but didn’t (shamefully!) tune in to listen Adrian’s Talk Sport programme on Wednesday morning. (Sometime between 4 and 5 am I THINK?) I can pass on that like so many others he made the ultimate reluctant confession to ‘Moose’ the fervent West Ham supporting sports reporter: “ Ok. I admit it. I’ve thrown in the towel. West Bromwich Albion are going down simply because they can’t defend and continue to make the same mistakes match after match” Correct me if I’m wrong Adrian but it was early morning!

Next game away at West Ham on March 16th so still plenty of time for the coaching staff to drag our ‘defenders’ albeit hearing them screaming “You can’t tell us anything we haven’t heard before and you know we can’t change our die hard habits at this stage of the season”

So to all Baggies fans a simple message ‘Enjoy the last 10 games of Premiership football until we manage to achieve another, who knows when, Championship promotion back to the promised land that turns out to be anything other than a fleeting glimpse into what can be a major leap forward. PROVIDING a club possess the necessary financial stability and desire to stay there.

“Come on you Baggies”

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