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Terry’s Baggies Blog

HOODOO VOODOO

26-09-2008

Albion's failure to beat Villa for the first time in 23 years is nothing compared to their long-running win drought against this weekend's opponents Middlesbrough. Terry Wills considers how to find that winning groove against jinx teams.

"Will I ever see Albion beat Villa during my lifetime?"

Adrian Chiles plaintive plea, accompanied by an anguished look of despair, after he’d watched snippets of the Baggies 2-1 Hawthorns defeat by Villa on Sunday’s ‘Match of the Day’.

And I daresay the same question was being asked by a large percentage of Albion supporters under the age of 30 (!) bearing in mind it’s now 23 years since a Baggies team left the field realising they’d be collecting a winning bonus as a reward for their efforts!

Before this ‘genuine’ derby match ( as opposed to the artificial modern hyped Baggies/ Wolves clashes) we‘veteran fans had been chatting about those ‘Good old Days’ when both teams had been among the best in the country. At the same time inwardly acknowledging such halcyon days had most probably disappeared over the horizon never to be seen again?

(Although in the case of the Aston ‘Invaders’ providing they maintain their rapidly rate of progress they appear to be well equipped to challenge for top honours).

But as always there had to be a sense of optimism prior to the kick-off hadn’t there?

The sun was shining. Both sets of fans were mingling together without a hint of trouble. Everyone appeared to be decked in a colourful range of those very expensive replica shirts and as kick off time approached the tension was building up to guarantee another in the ever-growing list of VERY noisy boisterous afternoons.

Team line- ups announced, and at the time we certainly weren’t aware that the late introduction of Leon Barnett for the injured Abdoulaye Meite would play such a vital role as eventually turned out.

Tony Mowbray again opted for a 4-5-1 formation. Roman Bednar being the target man, and hopefully presuming a couple of the talented midfield players would push on to give accord him the badly needed back up support.

Early signs were encouraging BUT predictable. In terms of possession Albion dominated with swift intelligent passing football, but as I’ve said far to often “possession football doesn’t win games IT’S goals that count”

Villa’s successful start to the season (apart from losing the game Baggies fans wanted them to win at Stoke!) is based on a solid defence, the ability to punish teams via the pace of Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor plus the height and strength of John Carew. Regretfully these elements came together in two dreadful minutes for Baggies fans in general and the hapless Leon Barnett in particular.

Poor Leon. He’d found himself trying to contain a 6ft 5in giant of a man with strength to match, and after failing to learn from an earlier mistake he was left in ‘No Mans Land’ as Carew nodded home a cross with consummate ease.

Marking-what marking? Two minutes later and another sloppy mistake found Scott Carson picking the ball out of the net as Agbanlahor skipped past a non existent challenge to increase Villa’s lead.

Game over? Not quite. James Morrison pulled a goal back and at the break there was a genuine feeling we could yet something from the game.

No point in dwelling on the second half. Again plenty of possession, promising moves but the end result….You know the answer.

Mike Tyson, alias John Carew continued to terrorise Leon Barnett, who, while at times made some vital clearances, more often resembled a rabbit caught in a car’s speeding headlights, and in that situation the inevitable winner is the person behind the wheel …OUCH!

Up front Roman Bednar was once more made the ‘fall guy’. How many times, when both players are fit, is he to be the second choice behind the disappointing Ishmael Miller, palpably obvious when the fourth official held up his Number 9 number to be replaced (inevitably) by the number 10 of Miller? A decision made even worse by the introduction of Luke Moore to play in a 4-4-2 formation.

Not a popular decision from the fans perspective as arguably the duo posed less threat than the ‘stranded’ lone striker who surely must have been inwardly asking “Here we go again what AM I doing wrong?”

Come on Tony IF we are to play two strikers surely it has to be Bednar AND Miller seeing as both Luke Moore and Sherjill McDonald have yet to score, and rarely give the impression that they might POSSIBLY manage to open a joint scoring account between them?

So a deserved expected win for the Villa but as for the Baggies all IS not yet lost and as ‘Big Ron’ Atkinson said on Radio WM “Albion play some smashing football but they’re too nice. They need to add punch and power to punish teams. At the back they need someone like Ally Robertson and John Wile.”

Steady on Ron! Ally Rob and John Wile? At today’s ridiculous obscene salaries we couldn’t afford one of their wages let alone two!

Back to the beginning when Adrian Chiles asked the question “Will i ever see Albion beating the Villa in my lifetime?

Well Adrian compared to the Baggies results at Middlesborough, the next step on our Premiership travels, our dismal record against Villa illuminates the sky as brightly as did the fantastic firework displays at the Beijing Olympics!

You have to go back to Oct 3rd in that wonderful 1953/54 season, when the ‘Throstles’ won the FA Cup and, whisper it quietly, finished runners up to the team that plays down the road at Molineaux, in Division One.

The Division now known as the Premiership but commonly recognised by the ‘average’ footie fan as the ‘Greed League’

Goals by the incomparable pairing of Ronnie Allen and Johnnie Nicholls secured a 2-1 victory and although Albion haven’t played them continuously since then, I reckon a gap of 55 years without a win on Teesside hardly breeds confidence for the visit to the impressive but inevitable cloned looking Riverside Stadium.

Prospects? Without a cutting edge- without resolute defending-without the technically ability midfielders chipping in with a goal or two- it looks like being another game of that’ll see Albion gaining admiration for the quality of their play but nothing in terms of the points needed to climb away from the sign that ominously reads ‘Championship League straight ahead”

The way to avoid taking that route?. Turn promising performances into points gained. Strikers start troubling the keeper. Defenders mark and tackle as needed.

Finally as Big Ron said “Albion play nice football but you need more than that to win games at this level”

Very true Ron and to that I’ll add ‘Nice Guys invariably win nowt. Especially if they’re wearing a Navy Blue and White striped shirt that looks much smarter and traditional minus the name of a sponsor emblazoned on the front!

Although without a shadow of doubt the club would be far happier if a suitable sponsor did choose to advertise their company’s products up and down the country!

(“Should have gone to Specsavers!?”)

"Come on you Baggies"..

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