Upplösningen av Premier League närmar sig med stormsteg, många av lagen har fortfarande en hel del att spela för. Vi behöver fortfarande ta två vinster för att vara helt säkra på nästa säsongs CL, våra motståndare i lördagens match är i en klart mer utsatt position. Från sin jumboplacering behöver West Bromwich Albion vinna i stort sett alla matcher som är kvar och dessutom lita på att lagen framför dem går tomt. En mycket tuff uppgift och det mesta talar för att Birminghamlaget återfinns i The Championship nästa säsong. I omgångens Q&A berättar Sarah(@sarah_WBAx) från @1878_WBA om en jobbig säsong, där bland annat två tränare fått lämna. Det ska tilläggas att frågorna skickades innan den överraskande bortasegern mot Manchester United:
1. It looks like WBA will get relegated this season, what are the main reasons for you being at the bottom of the table?
Well, it has been a memorable season – for all the wrong reasons! From the managerial sackings of Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew to the infamous ’taxi-gate’ in Barcelona, there are a whole host of reasons why we are currently languishing at the bottom of the Premier League table. Our usual defensive organisation has been below standard for much of the season and this coupled with being the joint lowest goalscorers in the division was always going to prove to be a dangerous combination. Personally, I think the lack of mental strength we’ve shown for much of the campaign has been our biggest downfall. We’ve lost over 20 points from winning positions this season, by far and away the most in the division. Games against Watford and Newcastle at home as well as West Ham and Bournemouth away spring to mind. Had we somehow picked up another two or three victories we’d still be in with a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. As it stands – the Championship looms.
2. How do you rate your chances to get back into the Premier League right away?
It looks almost certain that our recent victory against Manchester United has just delayed the inevitable relegation. We have the squad capable to mount a serious challenge in the Championship but it simply depends on who of our current crop we can keep. Ben Foster, one of our most loyal servants, has already reiterated his desire to stay with us. Evans, Gibbs, Livermore and Dawson will all have their suitors from Premier League clubs. Rondon could head for the exit as he has a relegation clause in his contract, although his affinity for the club and supporters could potentially persuade him to stay. Brunt is also likely to stay with us but Phillips and Rodriguez could also have their heads turned should we receive interest for them. In addition to keeping our core of players, selecting the next manager is also vital for us. Sticking with Darren Moore would be a gamble but he is West Bromwich Albion through and through and has completely galvanised the club in recent weeks. If we do keep our most important players and choose the right manager then I think we have an excellent chance of being promoted.
3. Darren Moore is your caretaker manager now, has he changed anything after the sacking of Pardew?
Since Pardew was sacked a few weeks ago, the whole atmosphere around the football club seems to have changed. The taxi-gate incident in Barcelona along with Krychowiak refusing to shake Pardew’s hand when substituted shortly before his dismissal showed a lack of respect and faith in the manager and this didn’t bode well for our performances on the pitch. Pardew has since been questioned for the way in which he treated our younger players Sam Field and Oliver Burke, singling them out for unfair criticism considering their age and relative inexperience at this level. Darren Moore has galvanised the players and due to his affinity with the club having played for us from 2001-2006 and leading us to two promotions, he has ultimate respect from everyone within the dressing room and this is priceless in our current predicament.
4. If you could bring back one former WBA player to this team, who would it be and why?
This is a tough one. We’ve struggled in many areas this season but the one department where we have really lacked goals has been in midfield. Livermore, Brunt, Phillips, all of them simply haven’t contributed enough in terms of end product. A player who could unlock a defence, play a pass and chip in with some vital goals was Robert Koren. Between 2007 and 2010 he was one of our most consistent performers and although he didn’t score on a regular basis he had plenty of ability and flair not too dissimilar to our current player James Morrison who we have certainly missed this season. A second player who I wouldn’t mind back at the club would be Romelu Lukaku. When he was with us on loan from Chelsea, he scored 17 Premier League goals helping us to our highest ever Premier League finish of 8th. At the time he was just 19 years of age and he has since played for Everton and is now at Manchester United having bagged 100 Premier League goals. Oh how I wish we still had him!
5. You won the last game against us, what do you remember from that game?
The FA Cup game which we won 3-2 is actually one of the few positives from this torrid season. It was certainly our best away performance of the season and even though Liverpool went in front through Firminho due to a mistake from us we played extremely well and Rodriguez was ultimately the difference for us. We scored three great goals and despite Salah’s goal in the second half we deserved the victory. Of course the game was overshadowed by the use of VAR, with a penalty being retrospectively awarded and then missed as well as one of our goals being correctly ruled out for offside. It wasn’t necessarily the awarding of the decisions which caused controversy it was the length of time in which it took for those decisions to be reached. However, since then the Reds have gone on to have a fine season whereas we’ve only had one league win since and that was on Sunday!
6. What kind of game do you think we will see on Saturday?
I expect to see an unchanged line up from ourselves after an impressive couple of performances against Swansea and in particular Manchester United. Our workrate has improved under Moore and our shape and organisation has changed enormously. We may drop Rodriguez into the number ten role as opposed to playing alongside Rondon to help combat Liverpool’s experienced midfield. I think it will be a tighter game than perhaps some will predict considering the Champions League semi-final with Roma being just a few days later and Klopp may decide to rest a few key players. It could be the game which seals our relegation but we’ve shown the past couple of games that if we go down we will be doing it with a fight. I’m predicting either a draw or a narrow Liverpool win.