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Terry’s Baggies Blog

FROM HELL TO HULL

22-10-2008

After a drubbing at Old Trafford, Albion prepare for Saturday's encounter against the Premier League's surprise package Hull City, currently lying third in the table.

Who’d have believed that when Hull City arrive at the Hawthorns just eleven games into the season, a Tigers victory would leave the Baggies TEN points adrift of a team confidently forecast by all and sundry, apart from their Manager Phil Brown, to be struggling to survive more than one season in the Premiership?

But that’s the unpalatable situation following the weekend games. Hull beat West Ham to record their fifth Premiership win while Albion not unsurprisingly returned home on the back of a comprehensive 4-0 hammering.

Listening to the Hull win it was galling to hear they should have been at least three down in the first half, the Hammers had been the better team, but left the KC Stadium pointless.

City together with Albion and Stoke City were, and according to some nookmakers, still are, one of the favourites for the drop. But fair play to them, however they’ve managed to gather the points it doesn’t matter. A win is a win and a step nearer safety.

One thing’s for certain. It’s a game that must not be lost otherwise the growing hopes of the Baggies ‘comfortably’ surviving in the Premiership and accordingly giving supporters the opportunity to travel to the finest grounds in the country will be severely tested.

Which brings us to Manchester United’s Old Trafford, universally known as ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ .For many a first opportunity to visit the home of the current European and Premiership Champions.

A club that ‘sadly’ achieved cult status due to the Munich Air disaster on Feb 6th 1958 a footballing tragedy that for many veteran supporters would never be forgotten.

Chatting to a couple while waiting to be ‘frisked’ outside Entrance 231 they both said this was THE main reason they’d enjoyed seeing Albion lift the Championship. A chance to visit legendary stadiums, one optimistically saying “It gives us a chance of seeing the Baggies shock one of the worlds best teams on their own patch”

I admired their optimism although I HAD to remark that the quality of the top teams in the ‘Greed League’ was way, way, above beating those who’d we conquered in the ‘Fizzy Pop’ League.

"Don't you think we have any chance then? My answer. "If United have an off day and Albion play to their highest potential then YES there is a slight chance, but being realistic I can't honestly seeing it happening"

(And how after the 93 minutes I wish I could have been proved wrong!)

The stage was set. 2,400 Baggies fans, including ‘Super Bobby Taylor’ among the 75, 451 crowd taunting the ‘Surrey Faithful’ with the accepted, and expected, taunts of “We support our local team’, ‘You’re only here cause it’s Albion’ and ‘Our garden shed is bigger than this’!

(Incidentally it’s reported United are planning to extend even further the Old Trafford capacity. How this feat of engineering can possibly be achieved beggars imagination but apparently that’s the plan).

No point in dwelling on the scoreline. Or, as we filed away, asking each other ‘Who can you blame for a 4-0 defeat etc’.

The blunt truth was after a solid compact first half when the quality of the Baggies play led to Alan Green on 5 Live commenting “Not many teams come to Old Trafford and pass the ball around with so much confidence. I love watching West Brom but the trouble is in the last third of the field they have no cutting edge”.

Sad but true. And THAT in a nutshell is why goals will be so hard to come by in a 4-5-1 formation away from home against THE top teams. Again Roman Bednar was left in splendid isolation.

The midfield were far to occupied in attempting to combat the Reds counterparts and although United in the opening half were finding it equally difficult to break down the Baggies defence, the impression was always lurking in the mind that should they eventually open the scoring the game would be as good as lost.

But level at the break we continued to offer silent prayers that just PERHAPS the stubborn resolution would be sufficient to keep United at bay.

Enter a certain Wayne Rooney! Displaying world-class form he WAS unstoppable.
Twisting’ turning, shielding the ball, finding space, supreme passing skills. He had the lot. His opening goal opened the proverbial floodgates and from then on it was simply a case of waiting for the final whistle to end our torment.

Not that it had been a ‘spineless’ display - far from it.

Up to the first goal the defence had looked solid. Yes United enjoyed the majority of the possession but with the arrogant posturing play-acting from Christiano Ronaldo highlighting their growing frustration, IF we could have poached, sorry, stolen a goal that ‘impossible’ scenario MIGHT have raised it’s head.

Individual performances? Despite the eventual drubbing, until the opening goal they competed as well as the flow of the play allowed.

Scott Carson pulled off some fine saves. The back four manfully stuck to their task, Gianni Zuiverloon and Ryan Donk being the pick of the crop, midfielders probed, Bjora Valero in particular looking for openings that simply weren’t there, while up front a lone striker stood little or no chance.

Yet when the enigmatic Ishmael Miller did replace Roman Bednar he somewhat surprisingly, in view of his recent form, posed problems.
Two powerful runs had Baggies fans on their feet in anticipation and Van der Sar found his ‘slumbers’ rudely interrupted as ‘Tiny’ unleashed a couple of strikes in his direction. The second being not that far off target.

So to Hull City a team as far removed from Manchester United as can be imagined. But there they are third in the table, playing above themselves and looking well capable of comfortably avoiding one of the dreaded bottom three relegation spots.

At present Albion’s mid table position alongside a clutch of clubs looks comfortable and thankfully such teams as Newcastle and Tottenham among others (who looked dreadful against Stoke) are lending hope that Tony Mowbray’s philosophy WILL pay off with the success it deserves.

Certainly hosting Hull at home as opposed to travelling to play Manchester United at Old Trafford appears to give the Baggies a realistic opportunity to redress that defeat.

But it won’t be easy and metaphorically speaking as the ‘Tigers’ will be travelling with ‘tails up’ and still UNBEATEN on their travels they certainly won’t be lacking in confidence.

A final thought for the week. Three points from Hull and a midweek visit to St James Park which could also provide points, would see Mogga’ and the supporters feeling things were progressing nicely.

Conversely should the unthinkable happen, and pray it doesn’t, and both games are lost, then nerves will really begin to kick in.!!

But that won’t happen, will it!?

"Come on you Baggies"

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