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Terry’s Baggies Blog

FOREST ON FIRE

14-01-2010

Terry Wills is one of the most placid, even-tempered men in Birmingham. The Albion must have done something awful to get him angry.

Pre-match chat prior to the important game against Nottingham Forest inevitably focused on just how important the result would affect the prospects of retaining, or improving, the current league positions, of both clubs.

Three points for Albion - five points clear with a game in hand and a better goal difference-Magic.  A draw – still two points ahead with that game in hand.-acceptable.

But a defeat? Surely the Baggies couldn’t/wouldn’t lose their fourth midweek home game, in the process relinquishing the second automatic promotion spot to Forest -could they?

Well as we, and the rest of the millions watching on television, witnessed, we again managed to show that despite our reputation as the most attractive footballing side in the Championship, that perceived opinion was shattered by a fatal combination of why those who consider the Baggies as virtual certainties to finish in a top two spot, could finish with egg on their faces.

From day one I’ve felt Newcastle would finish as champions with the rest of the promotion hopefuls content with runners-up. But after watching Billy Davies’ slick moving, highly-impressive outfit destroy the Baggies as they opened up a three-goal lead I’ve come round to thinking they could eventually leapfrog the Toon and actually win the Fizzy Pop League.

Their range of passing was superb. They defended and marked without a hint of trouble while their second and third goals, scored in any league in the world, would have left correspondents and pundits drooling at their quality. Was it game over? Well judging from the number of people who upped sticks and made their way to the exits, it most definitely was.

But for all that Forest were helped – could say assisted - by an Albion display too bad to be true. The defence, (in name only for the opening 60 minutes) were truly awful. The midfield was way, way below their best. Too many misplaced passes to count, some failing to reach a blue and white striped shirt even though the distance was simply a few yards, or for youngsters, a few metres.

Onto the strikers (again in name only). Both Simon Cox and Luke Moore blundered around as if wearing blindfolds and carrying white sticks. Ineffective? They weren’t even that good so it came as no surprise that eventually Roman Bednar came on as a second-half substitute and total embarrassment was saved when he netted to reduce the arrears in front of the Brummie Road faithful.
 
At last a sudden and much-needed change of approach as they decided to move the ball quicker and with more accuracy, meaning the Forest defence found themselves facing what up to then had been sadly missing – pressure.

Then with just 16 minutes to disprove that they looked like finishing third in a two-horse race, to the crowd’s delight on came ‘Tiny’ Miller. Post-match reaction said naming him among the substitutes given the circumstances had been a mistake. But I bet they were delighted that those who disagreed had proved Robert Di Matteo’s judgement had been justified when making that particular decision?

The missing elements, pace, power, strength, and shooting ability at last worried Forest. He shrugged off challenges, forced the keeper to tip the ball over the bar for a corner from a shot that give the distinct impression we were now only a goal away from snatching a point. But in the end, and being truthful, if we’d snatched an improbable point it would have been a miscarriage of justice (And how it hurts to admit that sentiment!).

But we move on and with the next match away at St James Park and Newcastle firm favourites to progress to the 5th Round of the FA Cup on Monday, overall it doesn’t bode at all well for the immediate future. I console myself with the thought that the blindingly obvious mistakes made against Forest won’t be repeated.

Surely Jonas Olsson and Gonzala Jara, normally solid and composed, can’t be as poor again, or can they? If chosen, which I personally hope he isn’t, Chris Brunt HAS to display a 100% more application than shown against Forest while if, and it’s a big if, Simon Cox and Luke Moore do retain their starting places they can consider themselves extremely fortunate.

So a weekend off and ample time for a very angry Di Matteo to crack the whip in his own distinctive way, which apparently means raising his voice a few octaves higher should things not be going Albion’s way. And judging from his post match interviews (when he reportedly ‘blasted’ the players) dates for singing lessons would/could, soon be jotted down in his personal diary under the heading ‘Must Do’!

Roberto - last week we were dreadful. And nothing will convince Baggies fans we didn’t deserve to be embarrassed, as we were, until thankfully that Roman Bednar goal supplemented by the second coming of Ishmael Miller introduced a modicum of purpose into our play.

Mercifully it resulted in body language, which had previously been as mobile as animated cardboard cut-out characters, turning into living breathing human beings who realised they were being well-paid, and whatever the state of a game, meant they  were obligated to give of their very best.

Even if, as on this occasion, the opposition proved the better team on the night, and had established the undisputed fact that West Bromwich Albion will need to match their results on a weekly basis to prove we deserve to be labelled outstanding candidates for an automatic promotion into the land of Milk and Honey. Or as befits a more accurate description ‘The Land of Greed and Money’

“Come on you Baggies”

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