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Terry's Baggies Blog

ALBION QUICK ON THE DRAW

13-08-2009

Terry Wills reports on mixed fortunes for Albion in their first two matches under new head coach Roberto Di Matteo. Tuesday's League Cip win at Bury was preceded by a disappointing draw at home to Newcastle in Saturday's televised Championship fixture.

What was that I said last week? Oh yes…”I refuse to believe Newcastle could be as bad as reported”….!!”

How I wish I could have seen evidence to the contrary but, as suspected, despite the reported turmoil raging on Tyneside the bookies who made them firm favourites for an instant return to the Premiership, won’t be far wrong.

It was an emotional start to the evening with both sets of supporters paying a magnificent tribute to Sir Bobby Robson who served both clubs faithfully and well. Without doubt the game has lost a gentleman in the true sense of the word. Farewell Sir Bobby your name will be forever remembered by supporters of every very club, plus of course the National team.

So a 1-1 draw and a point gained seeing as the Baggies hadn’t beaten United in a League game for 25 years. Make no mistake judged on this game Newcastle will be very near, if not top of the pile, come the end of the season.

Naturally Roberto Di Matteo will need time to decide who will force their way into his starting line up and judging by the decision to start young Chris Woods and name Simon Cox among the substitutes he fully recognises the problem.

Obviously with the news that additional new signings are in the pipeline the team that started can only be considered as his first ‘stab’ at choosing what he hopes will be the backbone of a first choice starting line up.

So while there has naturally been a raft of differing opinions on the overall performance at present it’s far to early to offer a clinical judgement on what Baggies fans can expect to see at the end of another 45 long hard Championship matches.

Strangely both teams could claim they’deserved the three points. For their part United moved the ball swiftly and accurately, looked the more accomplished, and certainly left their ‘unhappy’ supporters in a far more optimistic mood than reported.

As a counterbalance Albion can justifiably claim that if the Newcastle substitute keeper Tim Krul hadn’t had one of those games when EVERYTHING fired in his direction WOULD be saved, they could have run out comfortable winners!

Plus points? A vastly improved display from Luke Moore. An energetic enthusiastic performance from youngster Chris Woods, usual reliable defensive form from Jonas Olsson, and Youssouf Mulumbu actually looking as if he could be the holding midfielder we’ve lacked for far too long.

Minus points? Gianni Zuiverloon, a horrendous first 45 minutes but a vast improvement as the game wore on. Robert Koren who for me suffered his direst game in Albion colours, and Chris Brunt who was at his enigmatic worst.

As said Newcastle were impressive but even so the amount of space they were allowed, due to Baggies seemingly happy to allow them ‘acres’ of space to mount their attacks, was worrying.

Jonathan Greening, will he go or will he stay? As yet again Jeremy Peace has stressed new players will only be bought in when funds dictate, it won’t come a great surprise to me if the present Albion skipper does finish up playing alongside ex team mate Zoltan Gera on the banks of the River Thames.

But even if he stays many supporters firmly believe a starting place should be found for Graham Dorrans. Coming on as subs for the woefully out of form Robert Koren he made an immediate impact.

On to the Carling Cup at Bury - in terms of importance many fans placed it as a game that if won would be as expected but if lost wouldn’t be termed a major disaster.

Into the hat for the next round as a completely ‘remodelled’ team strolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory. Albion dominated throughout apart from a spell towards the end, and goals from Graham Dorrans and an own goal ensured a safe passage into the next round.

New boys Joe Mattock and Reuben Reid made their debuts with Reid in particular displaying a fair turn of pace and enthusiasm that will worry opposition defences.
But again Graham Dorrans, awarded the title of ‘Man of the Match’ has to start a game. Dominant in midfield and together with Filipe Teixeira underlines the depth and quality of the midfielders available to Di Matteo.

Next up a visit to take on Nottingham Forest (beware a certain Robby Earnshaw) followed by a visit to newly promoted Peterborough.

Certainly the opening fixtures look far from easy but then if we intend to make another strong challenge for promotion these are the type of games where picking up points can and will prove invaluable.

“Come on you Baggies”

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