Inside the Opposition: West Brom

It’s been a wretched week for City. The defeat to Liverpool was galling and took our title chances out of our hands; the pitiful draw at home to Sunderland – who are a shambles, let’s make no mistake – has effectively ended them.

How open City were for the first 30 minutes at Anfield was shocking given their reputation as a side who start quickly. The second-half performance was great, but we’d left ourselves a mountain to climb. The Sunderland match was obviously far worse. Bereft of creativity and excitement, it’s frightening how much rely on Silva given the supposed quality of our attacking options.

It’s West Brom on Monday, so I had a chat with Dan from Baggies Facts to get his thoughts on the game.

Do you think Albion will survive?

Had we have gained all three points from the two home games we have drawn recently against both Cardiff & Spurs via late, late equalisers, I would happily be saying ‘yes’. Unfortunately we have this annoying habit of not being able to see out a game this season. We have been ahead by a 2-0 scoreline inside 12 minutes on four occasions this season and failed to win any of those games, which is criminal. So don’t be disheartened if the Baggies take a shock early lead! Seriously though, I do think we will be okay, and I would be more concerned if we weren’t finding the net. Seventeen different players have scored for Albion this term, which is a Premier League high.

What have you made of Pepe Mel? Has he altered your style much?

When Pepe Mel first came in the change in philosophy was evident. You could see the whole back line pushing up with the midfield getting in the faces of the opposition. The best example of this was when we went to local rivals Aston Villa and found ourselves 2-0 up inside a few minutes, only to go and lose the game 4-3 thanks to a very unsure and uneasy defensive performance. Since then Mel’s reigned it in a bit, realising I think that Albion’s solid but ageing back line aren’t so used to playing the kamikaze style his Real Betis defenders were able to.

Defence aside, he’s currently getting as much as he can out of the squad handed to him, using players like Anichebe to good effect who aren’t typical Mel type players. I really hope he’s given the chance to build his own team this summer, as do many Albion fans who have taken to his positive attitude and ideologies.

Who’s been your player of the year?

Albion’s best player in terms of natural ability in my opinion is Morgan Amalfitano. He can beat a man for fun and his crosses are almost always delivered with pinpoint accuracy, he can drift in and out of games though which has been his downfall.

In terms of across the whole season I would award it to Youssouf Mulumbu. He has been so consistent not just this year but since his arrival in 2009. For me, it’s surprising he’s been with the Albion so long; I certainly believe he could cut it at a so called ‘big club’.

You’ve been involved in some exciting matches this season, like the recent 3-3 draw with Spurs. Have you enjoyed this season?

It’s certainly been a season to remember, but for all the wrong reasons! We have hit tabloid headlines more this term than we ever have. The whole Anelka saga dragged on too long and gave people an opportunity to take a swipe at us, unfairly in my view. We have had to endure plenty of off the field problems including a recent dressing room bust up, players coming out claiming to be unhappy with Mel’s style in public and various issues surrounding young striker Saido Berahino. I get the feeling everyone just wants it be over so we can look forward to the World Cup and a more positive 2014/15 season.

One thing I will say though is that I’m sick of the expectancy levels even at a club of our size. Some fans feel we have a divine right to win every week, and I do have to question whether they understand that someone does have to lose in this game we all love. Some realism is required and this season just shows that you should enjoy the better times and take nothing for granted, especially in the Premier League.

Which City player would you most like to take to West Brom, if you could?

The position we desperately need to strengthen is Liam Ridgewell’s left back slot. I won’t criticise too much as he always gives 100% but he’s been caught out too many times of late. So on that thinking either Kolarov or Clichy will do. That Toure lad you have in midfield doesn’t look too bad either! How much do you want for him!?

What have you made of City under Pellegrini?

On the whole you have been impressive. Manchester City have been my tip for the league title all season. What could be very costly though isn’t the recent away defeat at Liverpool but your patchy form at the start of the season. You could well look at that as Pellegrini’s settling in period and I believe if you show patience and back him success will be forthcoming, especially if you can add to the team in the summer.

Who will win the league?

Liverpool look to have it sewn up, they aren’t the best team in the league but they have hit some ridiculously good form at the just about right time. For the neutral it will be good to see a new name on the Premier League trophy. The Citizens will again be my tip for next season though.

Who will go down?

Anyone but Albion hopefully!

I do think Fulham will beat the drop as they have done on previous occasions. Norwich City’s run-in is extremely difficult and both Cardiff and Sunderland have left it very late if they are to pull it out the bag. I’m going for a bottom three of Norwich, Cardiff and Sunderland.

Predicted West Brom XI?

I predict a similar formation to what we played against Tottenham (4-2-3-1) maybe with Claudio Yacob coming in for Dorrans, which would be harsh given his recent form but necessary to try and break up your forward moves. I can also see Anichebe coming in for Vydra to make use of the limited possession we’re likely to see in your half. Both Olsson and Morrison are doubts but given the game is taking place on Monday rather than the weekend they could well both make it.

GK – Foster
LB – Ridgewell
CB – Olsson
CB – McAuley
RB – Jones
DM – Mulumbu
DM – Yacob
LM – Brunt
AM – Sessegnon
RM – Amalfitano
ST – Anichebe

Bench: Myhill, Dawson, Reid, Dorrans, Morrison, Vydra, Thievy.

Score prediction?

1-1 is my extremely optimistic prediction. A gift of an own goal like Richard Dunne’s in the 2004/5 season would be fantastic!


Interview by Rob Pollard

You can follow Dan on Twitter

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