Opposing View: West Bromwich Albion
Vital West Bromwich Albion editor 'Baggy Boy` joins us today to preview the Lads trip to the Hawthorns this Saturday...
How have you fared this season compared to your expectations?
The first half of the season was well above expectation levels. With Steve Clarke coming in, most I would think, were just looking for some consolidation this term as he learnt the ropes as the main man, so finishing in and around where we did last term was all I was hoping for - just not to see too much of a drop because of the changes, so we had a good base again to build further on.
Of course that went out the window with how we started and the quality of our performances and an outside hope of a European place is still something we can look at at the moment, in some ways if we miss out some will feel disappointed, but we are on track to match last term and possibly better it, so that will certainly do for me to be honest. Anything else would be a bonus.Was it always (sadly) inevitable the Albion would slip away slightly after a blistering start?
I think so to be honest.
For his first job everything was going right for Clarke to begin with, it would've been naive to think that could be sustained without a hiccup, but we needed to see and he also needed to experience when everything goes wrong, because it still is a learning curve.
I think most are pleased with how he has responded to be fair, and any worries on that score have been laid to bed.
As for us, every team has a hiccup and we've coped with ours pretty well. Performances didn't really dip in the main and the team fought through it, although we didn't help ourselves on one or two occasions.
The focus now is how we bounce back again, because there is time to make up the points we lost as long as we go at it properly.Peter Odemwingie - does he have a future at the Hawthorns beyond this summer & what is the fan consensus on him?
I can't see it myself.
Just too much said that has rightfully infuriated the club, and the fans really. If it wasn't for the principle more than anything, I think that club may have done more to move him on during the loan window to save on further disruption, but what's done is done, and I'll be very surprised if he remains with us past the summer.
Handled differently he could've gone with grace and status, but the Twitter meltdowns put paid to that.
If he focuses and really performs, I think he can win a lot of fans back, although I still don't see him staying past the summer. But for a large number of fans, as a fan there's just somethings you can't forgive aren't there.How did the January Transfer Window go for Albion?
Well it was eventful for all the wrong reasons!
Players leaving rather than coming in, many wanted us to strengthen further to give us a lift, but I can see why Clarke didn't splurge and add bodies as one of our strengths is how tight the team are, so bringing in other players - especially those who may have only entertained a move to us because of our league position would've upset that balance.
We've also got a reasonable squad, so it's time to use them so they can be assessed for next season as well.Who will be your key man on Saturday?
Shane Long or Romelu Lukaku, depending on who gets the start. Both are key players for us, and match winners. They are the spark that completes the hardwork everybody else puts in.
It is nice this season though especially as I could pick out somebody from each unit who is capable of deciding the game, but those two are the ones to watch definitely.One Baggie you'd drive to his next club & why?
Peter Odemwingie, 'nuff said.
It's daft, he's still quality enough to play an important role for us for the remainder of the campaign, but personally with everything that has gone on, and all the lines that have been drawn, I still see it as being a distraction now.
Will he play, won't he, how will he perform, would it upset the team as a whole when somebody is dropped so he can come on etc.
Just too much baggage for me and potential what ifs. Such a shame, and what you'd give to turn back the clock.One Black Cat you'd sign & why?
Fletcher I think, he's just somebody different to what we have. We have a lot of runners as strikers and only Markus Rosenberg as an obvious target man. I know we don't play that way normally, but Fletcher guarantees goals regardless, and would be a different outlet for us.Any injury/suspension concerns?
Our main injuries in terms of starters have all recovered to the best of my knowledge at the time of typing, so we shouldn't have any concerns there in terms of the team not being at its strongest.
Our only suspension will be Goran Popov from memory, but Liam Ridgewell will slot in again I suspect.Cheers Baggy Boy! Make sure to CLICK HERE to see how I answered Baggy Boy`s questions.