Jake’s image says it all.
There have been many occasions when we have said “no slip-ups this time, Lads”, “get it right”, “it’s a must-win” and other variants of “it’s time to play”. This time, we can roll up all those nervous words of encouragement into one cliche and, wherever we all find ourselves in the world at 3pm, GMT+1, on Saturday, blow the ball into the net at one end while sucking it out of harm’s way at the other.
It is also time to stop comforting ourselves that survival does not strictly depend on winning. The visit of WBA gives us an opportunity but also a challenge. Norwich play Newcastle. If that match is drawn, or Newcastle win, we again climb out of the bottom three – but only if we win. If Norwich win, three points for us would leave us as we are now, two points behind but with a game in hand.
One matchday soon, the time may be past for us to talk about having to win.
For now, let us just say our need is quite pressing. This is where the players must start earning their fat pay cheques, where Big Sam must take a step towards his stay-up bonus.
Under Gus Poyet, two seasons ago, we sealed survival by beating West Brom at home, with first-half goals under the floodlights from Jack C*lb**k and – after Seb Larsson’s magnificent pass – Fabio Borini. It gave us the margin that made Jozy Altidore’s obligatory glaring miss matter for nothing and was precisely the result requested in the Guess the Score posting for that game.
C*lb**k has gone but Borini’s back. My Guess the Score entry would therefore be 2-0 with Rodwell, the Jack we bought in place of the former, and Borini again scoring the goals. Naturally, I don’t mind where our winner and/or cushion comes from; just let it/them come.
But what do readers think? Since it’s a game of more than average importance, I am posting Guess the Score early.
If the results on Saturday take us out of the bottom three – and only if – I’ll stump up for a mug. It follows that while Albion fans are warmly invited to have a go, only a Baggie predicting a result against his or her own team stands a chance of winning a WBA-related mug.
Otherwise, normal rules apply. Winner must have a UK delivery address or pick up the bill for international postage. The winning entry must be posted here before kickoff and Monsieur Salut’s decision shall be final.
Have a go. And Ha’way the Lads.