West Bromwich Albion 0 - Middlesbrough 0

Date: Sunday 28th August 2016 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Foster 6.3, Dawson 5.9, McAuley 6.8, Evans 7.0, Galloway 6.9, Yacob 6.1, Phillips 5.5, Fletcher 5.0, Field 6.6 (Gardner, 76 5.1), McClean 6.1 (Leko, 64 3.7 (Berahino, 72 3.8)), Rondón 5.2
Unused subs: Rose, Olsson, Lambert, Wilson
Manager: Tony Pulis 3.8
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire) 5.1
Attendance: 23,690   Home Fans 4.8   Away Fans 5.3


Any new Albion fans in China watching the game before going to bed would have had no problem falling asleep. This was as drab a performance as I can remember under Pulis. And that's saying something. James Maclean (who mysteriously was the first to be subbed), Phillips and Galloway showed great pace early on and it looked promising, but by the fifteen minute mark we had settled into full Pulis mode. That is, slow lateral and reverse interpassing in midfield when in possession and nine men behind the ball, standing off, when defending.

I said it two weeks ago and I'll say it again, Berahino is a blight on the team that needs to be cut out, regardless of a replacement. Take the 20 million quid and run.

I have come to the conclusion (not a difficult one I know), that Pulis is incapable of setting up a team any other way than the one we see. Credit should go to him for picking Sam Field. On paper this was about the best starting eleven he could have come up with, but his brand of football has turned off the fans. This mood permeates to the players who are afraid to be adventurous at home in case they make a mistake. Having said that, now is not the time to change managers. I fear we are stuck with this until the end of the season, unless of course we are in deep relegation trouble.

Steve Fereday:

That was lucky. I went to the pub and loaded up and got back, switched on Sky and fell asleep for the whole game. I am sometimes fortunate like that. My son wasn't so fortunate and got a ticket and had to sit thru that shite. Never mind, come Wednesday evening with all the players we will bring in, we will be a force to reckon with to threaten Burnley, Hull and the Boro avoiding the drop.


I played golf this morning with an Arsenal fan and said exactly this to him. If we lose against Bournemouth, the pressure on Pulis will be massive. IMO, he will be gone by the end of November.

Will the new chairman want to watch that shite every week? No.

Ancient Baggie:

First game I've been to this season and a few things stand out for me. The atmosphere in the ground was non existent! Like most I'm not a fan of the football we're playing at the moment or the Berahino saga but can't understand booing our own players? Not a great signal to any potential new signings! I thought we did OK with the players available. We lack creativity and have done for two seasons, Pulis has done nothing to address it despite signing at least half a dozen players in his time in charge so I can't quite see how he blames it on the club?

Nice to see a proper full back with a desire to get forward, looks promising. Pleased for young Field great potential. Can't see Yacob and Fletcher in the same midfield they both need too much time on the ball and though I admire McLean's enthusiasm he really is a headless chicken! Not sure we can attract the attack minded players we need in the next couple of days and not sure Pulis will know what to do with them if they do come? But I'm a Baggie and will continue to cheer them on whatever, remember it's OUR team. COYB

Talyllyn Baggie:

Looks like I did the right thing by not renewing our season tickets. I don't think I could stand this dour, attritional rubbish for the next nine months. I salute the hardy souls who will have to do this, although you deserve better.

Brendan Clegg:

A few eyebrows were raised at the lineup and subs.

Personally I was pleased to see a change in formation to a 4-2-3-1 as I think this is the best option for us if we are to retain any hope of ever attempting to keep the ball and control games. You still need the right personnel. Was Morrison injured or left out altogether as the middle of the front 3 in this position is his best role by far?

We started very brightly with JM and BG offering a balance we haven't seen in the Pulis era. And for the first 20 minutes or so we were well on top without creating anything truly clear cut. But, as is fairly typical, after our quick out of the blocks start the opposition coaching team suss out our limitations and rejig things to keep the ball off us for long periods.

Borough did just that - we chased shadows for much of the remainder of the first half and although they played some nice stuff Borough didn't have any real quality to hurt us.

2nd half was more fo the same - Rondon was totally isolated although in truth he had a bit of a stinker. Oddly, Pulis took off JM who'd actually been keeping it simple and despite being a little bit erratic had probably been our best performer in the forward positions.

Phillips was moved left and looked lost and after Leko's 1 minute cameo (did he really want it?) Saido came on to play on the right at about 60% of his effort and ability. I can't work out whether Pulis has ruined his promise more than his own attitude. To complete the set of subs, Field (easily our best midfielder on the day) made way for Gardner.

Borough were equally as happy as Pulis to see the game out nil-nil without any taking any risks. 2 teams set up to draw a game nil-nil the lo, there was a terrible game for anyone wishing to be entertained.

I'll throw the usual criticisms in - Galloway's introduction showed that having a naturally left sided player at left back helps even if they are yet to be a world beater. Poco could have done a job here for these last 20 games whatever nonsense Pulis comes up with.

With 20 to go against a defensive team, McManaman high up the pitch on the right would have been a useful sub to make instead of Gardner but Pulis would rather put 90% of our 'first team' through midweek cup games than use players we're paying good wages for who could absolutely do a job against teams 2 divisions below us even if they are not in his long-term plans.

I agree with the fears of many - I hate this stuff now and want Pulis out more than ever but I cant think of a manager who could work with the squad they'd inherit apart from old uncle Woy if he fancies a couple of years of redemption before retirement. Bland and predictable coached Hodgson football is surely better than Pulis anti-football.

  • Foster - 7 Not a lot to do but solid.
  • Dawson - 6 Good defensively, tried to help going forwards but quality lacking.
  • McAuley - 7 Keeps doing it. Some great recoveries.
  • Evans - 8 Some great defending but on the ball he was magnificent. Played better passes than our midfielders.
  • Galloway - 7 Good debut, ran out of steam a bit but looks as good as he did for Everton.
  • Phillips - 6 I'm probably being kind. Still seems to be playing within himself and for creativity or awareness is not a patch on Sess.
  • Fletcher - 4 Weakest link in the midfield today. Gave it away cheaply too often.
  • Yacob - 6 Couple of good interceptions but not a lot to do as Borough didn't really press us.
  • Field - 7 Showed lovely composure and willing to keep it. Looked after the ball really well. Tempo of the game suited him.
  • Howlin' Mad MacClean - 7 Decent game in fairness, had a go at his fullback when one on one. Harshly subbed.
  • Rondon - 5 Possibly perplexed by us attacking the first 20 mins, nothing went his way all day and din't work as hard as usual.
  • Saido - 4 Got in the way more than anything.
  • Gardner - 4 Got in the way more than Saido

Mark Townsend:

40% possession and two shots on target at home, against a newly promoted side.

Pulis has certainly made me eat my words.

Kev Buckley:

Not sure if this should be classed as one of the benefits of being close to the start of every new day for the whole of the world but, because of that being the case, I can trump Steve Fereday's

"That was lucky. I went to the pub and loaded up and got back, switched on Sky and fell asleep for the whole game."

in having tried to watch the game after having loaded up and getting back so as to start watching the game at around 23:30 here, (so a lot longer "loading"!) with the result that I fell asleep not once, but TWICE, the second time after I woke up, realised I had missed some of the live coverage (couldn't tell you how much) and then started to watch the recording of that live programme, although, because of a cock-up on the scheduling front, that recording ended some 55 mins into the second half and if I hadn't fallen asleep when it abruptly stopped then it must have been part-way through it because I woke again having little to no recollection of the game at all.

Not to worry though: nearly every game is being shown at least three times over here and so I was able to record the whole thing and start to watch it for a third time, and that time I made it all the way to the end, although it's still taken me a while to remember enough to put together these thoughts.

Actually thought the starting line up looked promising, what with us finally seeing two "recognised as wingers" wingers, a "recognised as full-back" full-back, plus BBK on the bench, which I presumed, at the time, meant he'd surely be on his way this time.

Indeed in the first two minutes, things were even looking up even more as our latest recognised full-back made the sort of advance down the left flank that Pocognogli made in that game against ManU, although as Ayala scythed Galloway down, I started remembering what had become of Pocognogli after such a showing and wondered if our loanee had "gone off too soon".

Other memories started to filter through as the game wore on, not least our seeming inability to get someone one-on-one with Ayala, the Boro defender who'd been booked after just 80 seconds and so possibly tempt him into another indiscretion - that reminded me of a match, possibly at Blackburn, when they may have been down to 10-men, and even if not, Ivan Campo (if memory serves correct) was on a yellow, because Roberts had been giving some international defender a really torrid time and yet our manager back then didn't really have us pushing on (just like now, really) and we either settled for a point, or maybe even suffered an unlucky bounce as we invited them on. Halcyon days!

Can't say that the choice of a 4-5-1 at home to a promoted side, which is what it turned into, once McClean had had his one moment of brilliance, dancing through at pace from the left but then running out of options as no-one committed themselves forwards with him, and with Phillips once again showing signs on the right but not creating enough before being crowded out. My claim to it being a 4-5-1 could be furthered as I didn't get the feeling that Field had been asked to push up, from out of the five, in support of the tireless Rondon, whilst we all know Yacob won't leave his post and that Fletcher no longer can, though having said that Field was lot more careful with his distribution of the ball than his captain, although in fairness, someone in that midfield three has to try and be creative at some point and Fletcher still has the best eye for a forward, and I stress forward, pass, out of all the current options, even if they don't come off as often as they used to.

Given that the lone forward and the two wingers in a five hadn't troubled Boro all that much, it was rather surprising to see the better of those two wide-men replaced by Leko, although he wasn't on long enough (less than ten minutes?), before injury saw him leave the field, to see whether the manager's change had really just been like-for-like or actually a case of "and now for something completely different".

I can only assume Field's youthful endurance was what prompted his removal for the final 15 minutes, as it certainly didn't appear to be a tactical switch designed to change the game in any way. I think someone's report suggested they thought that the pace of the game Boro suited Field, so hopefully he'll get to up the pace, now that we've got Boro out of the way.

What does need to be pointed out though, and this has echoes back to the comments in the press last week by Ruel (he is the Munch-kin of Sa-aa-and-well) Fox about us being so hard to beat that we should be glad to have a manager so well schooled in that area, is that, had we been awarded the penalty for the shirt-tugging on Rondon, the game would probably have gone pretty much exactly the same as it did, however that history would have seen us come away with three points off one the promoted sides instead of one - though I'm sure there'll be many who'll happily take the one and move on to the next one.

Here's hoping that, having brought in three of the "five" we've been teased about, the remaining two won't be just the defenders or the defensive midfield players we've been linked with but will add some creativity in centre-mid and perhaps a willing partner for Rondon.