Taxi for Albion
It is Newcastle v West Brom today at St James Park.
Tenth in the table against twentieth.
Writer Ben Cooper welcomes our opponents, with this alternative guide to the Baggies.
Who Manages Them:
Former player Darren Moore, promoted to a very hot seat after the sacking of the Chuckle Brothers, Alan Pardew and John Carver.
From our point of view, the sacking of Pardew earlier this month deprived us of the opportunity to ignore him again like we did when he was Palace manager and to play against a dis-spirited and de-motivated team. For the Baggies, well they just had to get rid of him, 3 wins in 21 games the sort of record he often blamed someone else for at SJP.
‘Big Dave’ Moore had re-joined the Baggies as a youth team coach after a playing career where the highlights included partnering former Toon glove fettish-ist Wes Saunders and a couple of caps for Jamaica. A super tough centre half who once walked the Great Wall of China for children’s charities and is on the management committee of the PFA, he is doing ok with the Baggies having won once and drawn twice since taking over from Pardew, he’s probably Pards’ polar opposite, hard and fair as opposed to a completely untrustworthy tit.
Albion’s win at Manyoo in their last away game may give him a shot at the job full time but that would seem to be a mistake, this season the caretaker managers haven’t lost a game in charge whereas the permanent managers have been awful. Perhaps WBA should do what Have I Got News For You have done and have a guest manager every week.
The Baggies new Chief executive earlier this month gave an indication of what was to follow next season by telling the media what to expect from his tenure. He said he wanted to change the “culture” of the club, though typically didn’t say how, or what to and then read a brief statement from the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie:
“From my discussions with the owners already, I know there is a genuine desire to build a team with greater goal power and attacking threat which can capture the fans’ imagination.”
Goal Power! We can all do with a bit of that.
Who Have They Bought:
January signing Ali Gabr from Egyptian club Zamalek hasn’t played so far and it is probable that he won’t play today.
Summer signing Gareth Barry is also out today. Bought to replace Stoke bound Darren Fletcher, Barry has done that in the respect that both teams are going to be relegated but his injury deprives us of the chance to watch him for the 20th season of him stumbling around kicking people and us wondering just what he had to do to get sent off.
Kieran Gibbs was signed in the summer from Arsenal for £6.75million and should play today. That fee looked like a snip at the time and it was a wonder why we didn’t go in for him, especially given the £5million we punted on Manquillo. Now that the ever-reliable Paul Dummett is injury free we can wait until the summer to get Gibbs for half that price.
Another player we might be interested in is £12million summer signing Jay Rodriguez, who has done well this season given that he had hardly played since a 2014 horror injury. This season he has shown what a decent player he is when he is concentrating on his football and not obnoxiously, but not racially, abusing opponents. Should give him and Jonjo something to talk about anyway.
Jay Rodriguez: Only One Child On The Horse at Any Time Please.
Who Have We Seen Before:
One player we definitely shouldn’t be interested in signing is Daniel Sturridge. The Baggies supposedly nicked him off us in January when a loan from Liverpool had already been negotiated between the Anfield club and the programme seller outside the Leazes End. While we were still looking for our co-op vouchers to seal the deal, Pardew nipped in and both he and The Baggies fans laughed at putting one over on us. I’m sure they are still enjoying the never ending mirth of it all, those 3 appearances so far and no goals well worth all of the January crowing.
If he plays today, he’ll score, he always does against us, but it won’t do him or Albion any good. He was bought to save them and they paid both him and Liverpool a fortune to do it. A complete waste of money.
A Special Mention For:
Four West Brom players stole a Barcelona taxi after they asked the driver to go into McDonalds and get them some food after a thoroughly deserved mis-season club Beano to the Catalan capital. Gareth Barry, no one can believe he plays for England Jake Livermore, spitter Johnny Evans and Boaz Myhill nicked off in the taxi and left it outside their hotel as the driver ordered, paid for and then presumably ate their meals. McDonalds Four Star Saray Ortega Gracia said:
‘The driver got out to collect the order and one of the men got behind the wheel. They thought it was funny but I felt sorry for him. I didn’t learn they were rich footballers until later. I hope the police deal with them.’
The Police didn’t. The driver initially called the police but then dropped the charges later, as he presumably found £10,000 in the back of his taxi. For their part the players apologised for stealing the taxi but not for stealing their wages all season, or putting more effort into that jape than they have done for any game this season. The police were still keen to prosecute until they found out that the players had stolen one more taxi than they had gained points in February.
Gareth Barry: Taxi to the Knackers Yard please. One way.
Are We Going To Win?
Looking ahead to this fixture during our three week break in January this looked like a relegation six-pointer, a must win home game. Now it looks like we can enjoy the game a little more that the pressure is off.
For NUFC, a disappointing and leggy trip to Merseyside shows that while the team has upped its collective effect over the last couple of months, we still rely too much on graft rather than craft.
For The Baggies, Moore has instilled the sort of commitment seriously lacking under Pardew and they are at least, finally fighting for something, even if it is just not getting chinned off the manager. Keep an eye out for Rondon and Rodriguez up front, if what I hear is true, Rondon may well be playing for us next season. If we can keep those two quiet we should win the game. As the manager said:
“Recent results have been good because there has been a collective effort from everyone at the football club.”
Which manager? Doesn’t matter, both of them probably.
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