Spyin' Kop: West Bromwich Albion

Posted by RAWK Editor on December 29, 2005, 12:53:37 PM

As the busy festive season continues, Liverpool host West Bromich Albion at Anfield on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve to you). Can we continue our winning streak (notably and most recently a delightful 3-1 win over some team at the bottom of the league)?

West Brom stayed up in an incredible end to the last season and their continued prescence in the Premiership will depend on good wins like their 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspurs a few days ago.

Liverpool have enjoyed some high scoring wins against the Baggies and with Chris Kirkland on loan to them, there's bound to be interest in the game.

I asked several fans about their thoughts on the match, including Adrian Chiles (but alas he didn't reply) and below are the answers by two of them.




LIVERPOOL v WEST BROMICH ALBION


31st December KO:3pm


(For shirts see bottom of post.)
 
Many thanks to our two Baggies who found time in the festive season to reply :
From Stephen Butcher (SB)at http://www.westbromwichalbion-mad.co.uk/
and Chris Saunders (CS) at www.Baggies.com

How has the season been shaping up for you ?

SB Not a very good start to the season really, we are too inconsistent again. We can beat Arsenal one week, then lose to Wigan the next. We had all hoped we would improve this season, but it looks like being another hard long struggle.

CS Started well enough, but we still failed to take points we should have done and we're now sinking lower than we'd like to be. At least we weren't in the bottom three come Christmas, so that's progress from last year. But so far, although we've taken more points now than we had at this point last season, we haven't done as well in the equivalent games to last season so perhaps we're in a slightly false position.

What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

SB Expectations are to stay in the Premiership, been the same from day one.

CS Mine were to finish somewhere around 14th and I think that's still possible, but last time we relied on a huge improvement in form during the second half of the season and I'm not sure we're as likely to see the same thing happen again. I still expect us to survive the drop again, but perhaps not by the margin I was hoping for. I guess Albion fans will be happy with another 17th place finish.


Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

SB Most important players ? in my view it Zoltan Gera the captain of Hungry,
who has been out injured lately, also our left back Paul Robinson, a future
England international (you heard it here first !!)

CS Not an easy question to answer. When fit, Zoltan Gera can generate match-winning passes and goals but he's been missing most of the season for one reason or another. Joe Kamara can do the same but only seems to perform once every three to four games. Paul Robinson at left back is an all-action player who gets the whole side going and Kanu can be a joy to watch when he's on form - his vision and awareness is astonishing at times. It's hard to point to any one player that the side revolves around, which I guess is both a good and a bad thing sometimes.

Do you think Chris Kirkland is as good as Russell Hoult ?

SB Although Houlty is and always will be loved at the Albion, Kirkland is a much better keeper, would be great if we could keep him.

CS No, I think he's a great deal better. If only he could stay free of injuries I really do think he could become the best keeper in the country - it's easy to forget that he's still relatively inexperienced and can still improve a lot further.

Your worst player(s)?

SB Ronnie Wallwork (well, ex the Mancs isn't he !!!!!!!!!!!)

CS Again, hard to give definitive answers. The ones getting most stick from fans are midfielder Ronnie Wallwork, who only seems to look good when surounded by other good players, and striker Kevin Campbell who seemed to get picked regularly earlier on in the season despite having probably the worst record of all of our current selection of forwards. Although only a bit part player, Darren Carter - bought from Birmingham in the summer - has failed to impress most people, although he has scored one of our best goals of the season so far.


Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs?  Our matches have a history of high scoring – do you think that'll continue ?

SB My main memory is when we were both going for the title in 78/79. We were beating you at our place 1-0, when our Keeper Tony Godden picked the ball up. No danger at all, he rolls it on the floor not realising Dalglish  ? was stood right behind him, he kicked the ball into the empty net, and the game finished 1-1.
High scoring  ? i hope that does not continue !!!!!!!!

CS I think there will certainly be goals. We've had quite a few pastings courtesy of your lot since we got back into the top flight - two, three, five and six nil - so I don't expect us to be putting many past you this time. But come on, lads - we just beat Everton 4-0 so surely you must have a bit of a soft spot for us, just this once?


Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

SB No real young players coming through no, do not know why but not many of our youngsters make it all the way to the first team.

CS Centre half Curtis Davies, bought from Luton in the summer, might not be a household name but is very highly rated and tipped as a future England star 


What sort of line-up will Robson put out against us?

SB I hope Robbo goes for a 4,4,2. No pointt in packing the midfield and going there for a point. We are bound to concede at least one, so lets give it a go from the off. Robbo though will play a 4,5,1 !!!!!!!!

CS With a hectic festive period, he's given the impression so far that the big away games are a waste of time trying to get anything from and that he's better saving his better players for the home games where we might be able to pick up a few points. So you may well see a similar lineup to the one at Old Trafford - 4-5-1 with some fringe players included at the expense of others being rested.


Is he better than Gary Megson ?

SB I will not here a bad word said about Sir Gary Megson. When he arrived we were one game away from the second division. Two years later he took a very average side to the Premiership, only boardroom arguing and a lack of cash meant he struggled. Robbo to performed a miracle to keep us up, so both in my eyes a good managers, and i would not like to say one is better than the other.

CS Well, he kept us in the Premiership when Megson couldn't, he appears to have more respect from the players and the Board and a bit more tactical awareness. But it's a lot harder to know exactly what's going on behind the scenes - the players don't always seem to have looked as fit as they did under Megson, and although everyone seems to get more of a chance to impress he does seem to have a few favourites who can do no wrong. On balance, an improvement - perhaps this season will be the real test, and the outcome is by no means certain yet.


Where do you expect yourselves  and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

SB Expect or think  ? i would expect you to fight with Arsenal for 3rd
spot, and i think we will finish 15/16th

CS I think you lot can get 3rd place, we'll be around 16th. I hope.


Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

SB Can i only pick one ?? has to be Gerrard then

CS Same answer I seem to have given for years! Gerrard, no question.


Care to predict the score?  Go on!

SB Heart says a lucky 1-0 away win, head says 3-1 home win

CS Hmm. 2-0 to you, I fear.


Have you been to Anfield before?  What are your impressions/expectations.  How do you find atmosphere, things like YNWA etc.  What one thing would you change in terms of how away fans are treated here?

SB Cannot really comment on this one, i have not been to anfield since the
early 80's.

CS I think the worst thing from our perspective is the view from the away section. The low roof makes it feel very enclosed, and unless you stand for the whole game you hardly see anything at all. Other than that the atmosphere is better than Highbury, Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge and I've never had any trouble with the locals that a quick "go and nick some hubcaps" hasn't shut up! It's definitely one of the more magical grounds, the Shankly Gates are always worth another look, and even for an away fan, the chant of YNWA is quite a moving experience.


Where does that boing boing bloody boing come from ?

SB Ah, the world famous BOING BOING, hopefully you will see it in full swing !!!!. No one can actually say for sure where this started. Some say it all started at a freezing cold night match at Hull, where the Albion fans started jumping up and down to try and keep warm, some say the same for a game at Orient. Others have said some Albion fans took it from a Scandinavien punk record called POING POING, i don't think we will ever know. All seater stadia has however lost the real impact of this. You probally will never see it, but our play off game with Swansea in 93 has the whole of the home end doing it, quite a sight. After that game the club called in structual engineers to check the stand, because the club was worried about the safety of the stand. And at a recent game against the old Wimbledon played in Milton Keynes we were asked not to do it if we scored, because they said the stand might not be able to take it !!!!!!!
 
CS It started around the time of the Second Division playoffs in 1993 (I realise it's something you lot won't have a clue about!) but there are various stories of exactly how it began. I'm not really sure myself.


What nicknames do you have for us ?

SB No real nicknames for you.
 
CS I'm not sure we have one, really. We just go "eh? eh? calm down, calm down" a lot when you're around. I'm sure you haven't heard that before...
 

Who is your biggest rival - Villa or Birmingham, and why ?

SB Biggest rival  that is a split between Aston Vile, and Wolverhampton. It depends if you were born in Birmingham or the back country. From a personal point of view i cannot stand Aston Vile, but i think Albion fans are spilt 50/50. There is no real hatred between us and Blues, because we have a mutual dislike of all things Aston bloody Vile.

CS Well, traditionally it's always been Villa, who are the closest team geographically and in terms of stature. But during our time out of the top flight, that rivalry died down somewhat and Albion - Wolves and Villa - Birmingham both grew up in its place. So nowadays it's more down to your age - if you're in you're mid thirties or over it's probably still Villa, otherwise it's more likely to be Wolves despite the fact that Villa, Birmingham and even Walsall are all considerably closer to the Hawthorns.


Many thanks again guys.

(C) Hinesy 2005

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