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Terry’s Baggies Blog

BORO BAMBOOZLED

21-01-2009

With Albion just two points off mid-table – despite lying bottom of the Premiership – these are heady times at The Hawthorns. As Terry Wills reports, they’re even getting lucky now.

Never were the now immortal words (uttered by a certain Jimmy Greaves) “It’s a funny old game” proved more accurate, or appropriate, than when reflecting on the Baggies comprehensive 3-0 victory over a hapless Middlesbrough side at the Hawthorns.

How many times this season have the fans left a ground sharing a virtually, grumbling, unanimous opinion?

“ We dominated the game -created and missed chances - we had no cutting edge and were punished by making to many defensive errors - we should have won”?
(No prizes for a correct answer!)

Well it was roles reversed, especially in the opening half, as all around the ground Baggies fans were sitting somewhat subdued apart, from the fabulous Smethwick Enders, watching Gareth Southgate’s struggling team dominate possession (not many sides do that), carve out clear goal scoring chances, and then unbelievably miss when it seemed easier to score.

Before the game the seemingly sole point for discussion focused on the new strike pairing of Jay (from now on to be nicknamed ‘Homer’) Simpson and the late signing of Marc –Antoine Fortune (any ideas what his what moniker will be?)
but at the end of the game THE most important ‘fact’ was that Tony Mowbray’s two loan signings could turn out to be the answer to his, and the supporters, prayers.

For a team struggling in the nether regions of the table Middlesbrough definitely bossed the majority of the first half despite finding themselves a goal down, courtesy of a deflected shot from Chris Brunt. (At last a lucky break. It’d been a long time coming)

Boro seemed obsessed to prove just why they are struggling. Whenever scoring opportunities threatened a wobbly Albion back four they promptly tossed them away.

At the other end the Baggies despite having less possession also had opportunities, with the new boys linking up well considering it was their initial outing together.

Both were eager to please. Never allowing the Boro keeper or his defenders time to settle on the ball but THE mainspring behind most of our good work was the performance of Robert Koren. Summed up in a single word OUTSTANDING.

At time the Baggies back four must have again given Tony Mowbray food for thought. Caught in possession. Sloppy marking. Passing to the opposition. But hey what’s new?

The situation wasn’t helped due to an injury to Leon Barnett, replaced by Pedro Pele, (just love that name!) who formed an unlikely alliance with Ryan Donk.

Before the game the idea of seeing this pairing would have been considered highly unlikely. But due to the lengthening injury hoodoo and ever growing list of patients seemingly waiting to ‘star’ as extras in the Holby City casualty ward, that was the only remaining option.

Just one up at break things had to get improve. Time for Albion to show they were the home team?

Hopes realised. Koren, Greening, Brunt and company causing numerous problems. A tighter defence. Scott Carson handling crosses and shots with ease and to cap it all Boro’ reduced to ten men.

‘Homer’ and Fortune finding space to capitalise on smart passes from midfield.
Came a comforting second goal, Koren’s shot deflected into the net by a slice of good Fortune!

Who claimed the goal? Not really bothered, the 2-0 score-line was the all-important factor.

The growing influence of ‘Man of the Match’ Robert Koren was rewarded when he latched on to a superb ‘dream’ through ball from Chris Brunt before nonchalantly sliding it home in front of the Brummie Road who’d eventually joined in the fantastic support emanating from the Smethwick End.

In the process giving Albion not only the three points but also their first double over Middlesbrough since Noah built and floated his ark!

As said, massive plus points from Simpson and Fortune. Impressive midfield creative displays. And after a very shaky start a more solid looking defence.

Also PLAINLY obvious was that Tony Mowbray, realising that playing all your ‘passing’ football in front of the opposition, hadn’t produced the desired results had clearly ‘instructed’ that a more direct approach at times would cause teams problems. IT CAN, AND IT DID.

And after the weekend results the Baggies, although still occupying bottom spot in the ‘Greed League’ have given themselves a realistic chance of survival.

So is the ‘Great Escape’ CD ready to make a return in the pre- match build up?
Is it to early? Will we need it? Are we hoping against hope that the Baggies CAN pull off a reprise that would stagger the football world even more than it did the last time we broke with tradition? Only time will tell.

But I can’t help musing that IF by the remotest chance Albion managed to ‘churn out’ a result from the next home game against the team who haven’t conceded goal in their last ten matches, are league leaders, favourites to win the Premiership, have true world class players in their line up, and go by the name of Manchester United, then THAT would give everyone a MASSIVE BOOST.

Oh I almost forgot! This week it’s back to 4th Round FA Cup action as Burnley, complete with ‘The Beast’ between the sticks, attempt to stop the Baggies making any further progress.

Obviously Tony Mowbray and his players will be looking for a win to keep the current ‘positive’ run going. And yes the fans would naturally love to see Albion win every game.

But given the choice the most important thing HAS to focus on retaining ‘Greed League’ status. SAD ? Yes. But in the modern game that’s the overriding priority of any club who could find themselves out of the limelight thanks to missing out on the financial rewards on offer from their Sky paymasters.

No doubt Albion will field a far from full strength team due to injuries and the need to protect their most influential players from the risk of injury and or picking up Yellow or Red cards.

But should this decision prove the wrong one and we fail to make progress then judging from the ‘mood’ of the fans I mingle with, there wouldn’t be a mass outbreak of wailing should Albion’s name not relate to one of the Numbers when the 5th Round draw is made!

But in saying that….

“Come on you Baggies”

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