Friday, 18 December 2015

Albion Till We Die tells AFCB they have the good ex-Man Utd players

Rival Lines
Match Preview: WBA v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Albion Till We Die

This week's Rival Lines is with Albion Till We Die blogger Mark Thomas. I was surprised that there are not too many sites that follow the Baggies and I always wonder whether their fans get as much column inches as many other teams. Mark seems to have plenty to say about WBA though and his site has a good festive feel about at the moment. I feel WBA are becoming seasoned masters of how to establish a side in mid-table in the Premier League and perhaps AFCB would be happy to swap for a quieter life at times if they can keep the points coming like WBA seem able to do.

CC: West Brom seem to go quietly about their business picking up points but is it enough for the fans to have a mid-table side and do you see enough ambition at the club to go higher in the league?

ATID: I think the majority of Albion fans would probably like to see the club's owner Jeremy Peace push the boat out a little and aim to become a regular top ten placed club but in all reality it's not going to happen. For Peace, avoiding relegation each season has always been his aim, and in some ways that's understandable given the money clubs get for staying in the Premier League nowadays, but it is frustrating for supporters especially when you see similar sized clubs like Southampton and Leicester having success. With Peace still looking to offload the club I don't see him splashing the cash anytime soon.

CC: Have critics been unfair in their description of how Tony Pulis sets up his side to defend and to stay in games or do you feel the team should play with more flair?

ATID: There has been some fair and unfair criticism of Pulis recently. A number of games earlier in the season saw us play some really dour defensive stuff. Not only was it awful to watch but we weren’t really picking up many points either. It led to the first real signs of discontent amongst theAlbion support towards Pulis, and rightly so, it really was that bad. The last month or so has seen an improvement and whilst it's still not always great to watch there seems to be a bit more intent to win games than there was. I thought the criticism of us by Jurgen Klopp after Sunday's game was unfair and smacked of sour grapes. We'd all love to see the team play fast-flowing attacking football but with Pulis in charge and with the players he has at his disposal it's simply not going to happen.

CC: Rondon looks big and powerful but is his finishing too suspect at times?

ATID:  Personally I think he's been a poor signing so far, especially given we spent £12million on him. He's a willing runner and covers plenty of ground but that's about all we've seen him do so far. His finishing is extremely poor and his hold-up play is hardly any better. Hopefully the more he settles into the English game the better he will become but so far he has been disappointing to say the least.

CC: The home form has been very strong of late but are the lack of many clean sheets something that surprises you?

ATID:  I think if you look at the majority of teams that have played at The Hawthorns so far this season they would have all gone into the game as favourites against us - the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Leicester and Everton. Given the firepower those teams have got I don't think it's a surprise we haven't kept many clean sheets at home. Looking at both home and away games and again, given that our last six games were against teams all in the top nine, I think it was to be expected that we would concede a few goals. Overall our defence has remained pretty solid and against sides that are below and around us we've recorded six clean sheets which for me is pretty decent.

CC: Would you worry about staying up if Saido Berahino was sold in January?

ATID:  If you would have asked me the same question 12 months ago I'd have definitely been worried for our survival prospects but this time around I'm quite relaxed about it. Not particularly because we have better options than him - we don't - but because he's simply making no contribution to the team or squad at present. It's clear that Tony Pulis wants him gone if only to open up funds for him to use himself in the January window.

CC: Does the Premier League seem closer between teams than last season to you with the top teams dropping points?

ATID:  I'm not sure to be honest. If you look at the top end of the table, it's once again the usual suspects, apart from Leicester and the absence of Chelsea of course. It remains to be seen whether Leicester can stay the course but I'd be surprised if any of the 'other' clubs regularly manage to push into a top four or five spot.

CC: Who has been WBA's best player so far this season and what has been most pleasing about WBA performances?

ATID: Jonny Evans has been head and shoulders above anyone else this season, he's been a super signing. I like many others were a bit sceptical when we signed him, especially given the money he cost. Thankfully though he's proved all the doubters wrong and has hardly put a foot wrong, whether in his natural position of centre-half or when he's filling in at left-back or midfield. When you look at some of United's performances this season it does make you wonder why Evans couldn't get into their team.

As for what's been most pleasing about our performances, it probably has to be the commitment shown in each and every game. Whilst as mentioned above it's not been the best to watch at times it's impossible to criticise the effort and desire of the players.

CC: What have you thought of the three teams that were promoted from the Championship last season and what three teams do you think will be relegated?

ATID:  I think Watford and yourselves have been pretty impressive, especially in terms of the way you go into games, often showing no fear against far superior opposition. The same can't be said of Norwich who have looked poor whenever I've seen them - I expect them to be one of the teams to drop.

As for the other two, I think, (or should that be hope?), that Aston Villa go. Having struggled now for a number of seasons and with a squad that gets worse by the season it really will be a surprise if they manage to stay up, especially given their terrible start. It really couldn't happen to a nicer club, apart from perhaps Wolves!

As for the other side to drop I feel it will be between yourselves, Sunderland and Swansea. You're certainly giving it a go and the last two results have been fantastic but I just wonder what will happen if you lose any more key players. Sunderland look a poor side but with Sam Allardyce now in charge you expect them to scrape enough points to maybe see them through. As for Swansea, they are pretty much in freefall at the moment and a lot depends on who replaces Garry Monk, that decision is huge for the Swans' hierarchy.

CC: Are the next three games season defining for you against AFCB, Swansea and Newcastle?

ATID: I don't think they are season-defining as such but they certainly offer us an opportunity to get some points on the board. The last half-dozen or so games have seen us go into them as underdogs and on the whole we've done well. The next few games will see us as favourites so it'll be interesting how we react. Five or six points from the aforementioned games would be a good return and would see us go into the new year in a good position.

CC: Thanks to Mark who has a good grasp of  all things Albion so do take a look at his site - Albion Till We Die - you should also see my interview answers on AFCB when you visit the site this weekend.

While the Cherries manages a last minute 2-1 win over WBA at Dean Court last season in the Capital One Cup it will be a difficult result to try and get up at the Hawthorns. Tony Pulis would have been looking forward to this fixture and AFCB's players have to know that the hard work is not over having beaten Chelsea and Man Utd as they will be tested in every respect by WBA. Three points would of course pull the Cherries much close to WBA so there is a lot to play for in this game.

No comments:

Post a Comment