John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith’s broadband was playing up yesterday so, like Hutch, his report arrived late. In his e-mail Pete said it would be a short report because of the problems. Short, maybe, but, like Nick Sharkey, perfectly composed. Would that one or two of our current team could do so well, although, as Pete says, it was one of their best performances.
West Pulis Albion (H)
I have always maintained that you do not get relegated by losing 6-2 at Everton or 4-1 at Tottenham, but by losing 1-0 at home to Watford and Southampton. You can add “drawing 0-0 with West Brom” to that list as we fall two more points behind Norwich, the only conceivable team we can catch up with.
While the Canaries and their clapper waving fans (yuk) were virtually consigning Newcastle United to the nether regions, we did everything but beat Tony Pulis’s merry band of football adventurers but, alas, we were unable to find a way past an inspired Ben Foster in the Baggies goal.
I remember Foster having a nightmare at Old Trafford a few years ago when Kenwyne Jones terrified him so much that he dropped the ball every time the Big Man went near him. He didn’t play many games for United after that, went to Birmingham City and joined The Baggies in 2012. He has turned into a decent keeper but had no need to show us that on Saturday.
We created chances, the best one coming when all Defoe had to do was get his head to a wonderful cross from the excellent Khazri. The Tunisian is a very good player and I imagine that other Premier League clubs will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of picking up him and Lamine Kone if the drop is forthcoming and our imports don’t fancy half pay at Rotherham and Huddersfield.
The positives outweigh the negatives but we were not able to force the game. Maybe we could have pushed Borini up more, but he always looks dangerous coming from deep and he forced several good saves from Foster. Maybe we could have sent on Larsson for a tiring M’Vila and utilised the Swede’s energy and ability to pick out a killer pass. Maybe if we had beaten Watford and drawn with Southampton. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Albion did what they said they would and showed respect to the other clubs in the relegation group by not doing anything out of the ordinary. Tony Pulis knows what works and the fact that they have 40 points is a tribute to his organisational skills and also to the way that they play. No frills, few thrills but not the slightest danger of being relegated.
It is dull to watch and, as the Baggies coaches sped past us on the A19 post-game, you could see the supporters in a catatonic state as they recovered from seeing their seventh game of the season without a single shot on goal. It’s football, Jim, but not as we like it.
Nor were we helped by a lamentable refereeing performance from Roger East. The Wiltshire Whistler was the man who sent Wes Brown off at Old Trafford when it should have been John O’Shea and was stood down for 6 weeks. Neil Lennon described him as “rubbish” and 40,000+ Sunderland fans would have left the Stadium agreeing with the former Bolton manager after a performance that even Andy D’Urso (a Football League referee – things get worse by the minute) would have been embarrassed with. His leniency towards Jacob, who clattered his way through the game, reminded me of the Supply Teacher who is not too keen to confront the naughty boys in front of him in a Year 9 class on a Friday afternoon. Pathetic.
We have to win four more games out of the last seven to stand any chance of being in the Money Coming Out Of Your A*** League next season. Can we halt the Leicester juggernaut and drive the Foxes into a hole? Having done that, can we survive the plastic clappers at Carrow Road and knock the Canaries off their perch? Can we silence the Gunners, break the Potters and consign the Pensioners to their barracks. Will we come unstuck against the Toffees before drawing the sting from the Hornets?
If we can’t it looks like we will have to trash the Terriers, murder the Millers and clobber the Cottagers. Ah well, at least we can go to bed after Football League Tonight.