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Terry’s Baggies Blog



It's Albion big derby day on Saturday, but as Terry Wills reflects the optimism which had started to bloom around The Hawthorns has withered again after Saturday's Cup draw with Peterborough.

Holiday over! It’s back to work this week as we make the short journey to Villa Park. The mission? To capitalise and hopefully add to the points gathered from the wins against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City - form that in the short term raised supporter’s hopes that another ‘Great Escape’ was well within their capabilities.

Why do I say in the short term, and why among the majority of fans, is their a feeling this will be another setback against our oldest, and traditionally, deadliest rivals?

In two words, Peterborough United. The ‘Posh’, who in the Third Round of the FA Cup came all to close to pulling off a ‘typical’ shock result that’d have seen them progress further in the competition and Albion reflecting on the thought that their mediocre display had been in keeping with Tony Mowbray’s pre match instructions.
"Get out there, stroll around, try to put on a show but remember we have bigger fish to fry in the games ahead, and you don't really want a third visit to Peterborough in two seasons do you!?" (Only joking Tony!)

Ok the FA Cup may well be of secondary importance balanced against the need to survive in the ‘Greed League’, but even so it was a performance that underlined that the Baggies will need a succession of positive results to claw themselves out of one of those dreaded bottom three positions.

A brief look back. Plus points, yes there were a few! Jonas Olsson, a towering figure who looks every inch a future Albion captain. Marek Cech, impressive in place of Paul Robinson. Scott Carson, safe handling and shot stopping when needed. Robert Koren as always ever willing. On loan Jay Simpson, a second half substitution, impressed without ‘seeing’ too much of the ball. Graeme Dorrans another sub who must (?) be close to be given a place in the starting line up.

After that? Sorry my memory fails me.

Minus points, now where do we start? Leon Barnett, praised and backed by Tony Mowbray, promptly duplicated his horrific display when facing John Carew. An awful first touch, caught in possession, and leaving fans around me holding their breath whenever the speedy Peterborough outfit ran anywhere near him. Carl Hoefkens, ditto.

A midfield lacking bite and in skipper Jonathan Greening a player that despite possessing skill on the ball invariably, no ALWAYS, manages to pass the ball any way but forward, and whose ability to cause danger from a free kick or corner is little short of embarrassing.

Jonas Olsson’s opening goal counted for nowt seeing as Peterborough grabbed a late equaliser and if there was to be a winner it certainly didn’t look as if it would be in front of a VERY subdued Hawthorns crowd. (In no small way due to the fact that without the Smethwick End backing the atmosphere could at times more resemble a Funeral Parlour!)

So a replay that no one wanted and a game, that even if won, would surely be counted as a hindrance to Mogga’s hopes of putting desperately needed league points on board?

So to THE important match at Villa Park and let’s be honest at face value the prospects of coming away without tasting defeat have to be considered somewhat slim.

But in saying that I do espy there is just a ‘possibility’ of shocking Martin O’Neill’s highflying outfit based on their last two performances against Hull City and Gillingham? Yes they won both games but Villa fans I know were far from complimentary as to the manner of the results. (Oh to be in their shoes and having such cause for complaint!)

No the odds are well and truly stacked in Villa’s favour especially as in Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor they posses two of the quickest players in the Premiership, and who given time and space on the ball, will invariably cause severe problems for the best of teams let alone a Baggies defence that concedes goals at an alarming rate.

Unsurprisingly this is a game that everyone expect us to lose. All supporters recognise the need to take points from those clubs, who like the Baggies have survival as being their primary objective but then the occasional positive result against teams such as Villa would be a massive bonus and boost for the Manager, his players, and supporters.

Of course Mogga’s dealings, or otherwise, in the transfer window, will have a great deal of bearing on just whether Albion’s do manage to achieve their aim. But as he’s stated it’s a virtual nightmare when attempting to sign what could be considered ‘quality’ players on loan.

Especially when in our position that ‘inevitably’ means foreign signings, and reading into his current comment this means there’s a distinct possibility we’ll have to manage with the current squad.

Forecast? Based on form to date, league positions, the quality of the respective squads and the home advantage, it reluctantly has to be Villa victory.

But then the inbuilt optimism that every supporter has argues that if somehow the Baggies can play at their very best and conversely Aston Villa have an off day, then who knows we MIGHT just pull off a major surprise especially when taking into account it is a local derby (even more so than when playing the Wolves) when any result is possible.

We’ll keep fingers crossed, hope for the best, and carry on chanting and singing….,

"Come on you Baggies"


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