Stoke City 3 - West Bromwich Albion 1
Not written a match report this year because everything was dominated by the Pulis Out/Pulis In debate to an extent that nothing else seemed to count. Well now he has gone I have some shocking breaking news.... most West Brom players are not good enough for the premier league!
All season I have heard, this is the best squad we have ever had in the premier league. Well I just don't think this is true.
For a start we don't have strikers the quality of Odemwingie, Lukaku, or Long. We don't have anyone as good as Scharner or Mulumbu or Thomas in their positions. And some players we still have like Morrison, Brunt, and McAuley are past their best, and now injury prone.
Not sure who exactly is to blame for the poor recruitment but we certainly under-invested for 3 summers in a row prior to this year. Then we only spent net £40m this summer which arguably not enough when you are in such a catch up situation. Then to add a final nail, the players we did bring in this year are in the main not good enough at this level.
Mark Koppel has hit the nail right on the head. Albion have punched above their weight for a number of seasons and it's probably fair to say that without the legacy left by Ashworth and Hodgson we would have been in dire straits well before now.
Peace realised this and needed stability to further his dream of selling the club at a massive profit as a legitimate established Premier league club. Hence the appointment of Tony Pulis whose reputation of never being relegated fitted the scenario. Pulis was lucky in that he had a ready made group of players ie;McAuley, Olsson, Dawson, Brunt and Morrison, all of them (apart from Dawson) on the cusp of a decline but still good enough to last the 18 months to 2 years that was needed to secure sufficient gravitas for Peace to sell the club.
Buying into the Pulis Mould papered over the cracks of reality and masked the fact of the lack of investment in a creative midfielder and a top striker. This is no more evident in the fact that over the last 2 seasons the results have relied very heavily on goals from set pieces;ie the Brunt, Mcauley, Dawson trio. Without that source of goals the deficiencies brought about by Pulis's insistence on buying an overabundance of defensive midfield players has brought the chickens, turkeys and geese home to roost all at the same time.
Pardew's task is probably a hopeless one but not helped by continually playing the likes of McClean, Robson-kanu, Nyom and a leggy Barry none of whom are now up to Premier league standard. Added to that a much overrated Livermore, a disfunctioning Pole,and a want away Evans AND and continually injured Chadli and Phillips the future is bleak indeed.
I suspect Mr Lai will probably think of suing Mr Peace for sale of goods not fit for purpose.
Difficult to disagree with anything in the previous comments but offering my thoughts purely on the game yesterday in what was a defeat that left me feeling rather ill.
In seeing the team I thought Pardew had got it wrong - I'm sure people who read regularly are sick of me saying that with the players we have the only system I think we can play with is a 4-5-1 but I've yet to see anything that changes that. And given that Phillips didn't make the squad and Chadli only just made the bench I'd have given Burke another go on the right in a 4-5-1 to give us some pace we are so desperate for and, frankly, because he is only going to get better by playing games at this level.
McClean doesn't get me as angry as everyone else - he is a madman but when Phillips and Chadli are injured I totally get why he starts games even if he is lacking quality, because he runs all day, has got legs and will get his head down and win corners or cross the ball. With the injuries we have he is the best of the alternatives with the possible exception of playing Brunt on the left - although if we do that there has to be pace on the opposite side and through midfield.
I cannot blame Pardew for dropping Greg from the squad altogether BUT I'd have found a place in the squad for Field - we don't need McAuley, Dawson and Yacob on the bench when we need to win games.
I thought we started poorly and I thought that we looked lopsided and imbalanced. I'm not even sure what that starting formation was. Nobody in midfield were capable of showing for the ball (Yacob does this, despite his limits) so it was often long punts up to Rondon which is exactly where Zuma and Shawcross wanted the ball. We played into their hands.
Stoke were better but not that much better and their first goal got 2 lucky breaks that we just aren't getting - a first speculative shot from distance dropped straight for Crouch who fluffed his speculative volley into a perfect cross Allen who slotted home.
We then wobbled for maybe 5 minutes or so before finally pressing up a bit higher and hitting the ball into channels, getting the ball deep into the Stoke half which showed how bad they are at the back.
Rondon should have scored when he wasn't given offside and fired over a sitter but he also had a couple of decent attempts well saved following basic wing play from McClean.
It looked like if anyone would score it would be us but on halftime (Or to be more accurate, a minute beyond the 1 minute added for injury time) Barry got himself into a mess and then didn't read the danger to take a yellow for the team and Stoke broke to score. Simply criminal for a player of his experience. It killed us.
At half time Pardew got Chadli on for McClean (I'd have taken off HRK) and we began a 45 minute siege of the Stoke goal.
Rondon scored early after another basic ball from Brunt (Stoke really are rubbish) and it looked like we might win the game let alone equalise such was our pressure but we suffered a big blow in losing Chadli so quickly to injury as it stopped our momentum and he was getting lots of ball and creating space.
We gradually built the pressure up again save for a few Stoke breaks but couldn't find the quality needed. Burke came on with 10 to go and wasted 5 minutes on the left where he couldn't get the ball before switching the right and giving us a late opportunity through his pure pace and cross.
Deep into injury time with everyone pushed up for a corner Stoke broke away to score a third - it was very cruel on us and a real sickener.
In an away game we had 57% possession, 17 attempts on goal and 11 corners against the home side's 1. For 70% of the game we were the better team.
I agree our situation looks pretty bleak and with all the criticisms made about past mistakes but I still think there are glimmers of hope and that we might just squeeze out of it if we can get Dawson, Phillips, Morrison and Chadli fit for half a season, although from yesterday I'd be surprised if we saw Chadli before the end of January. If at all possible we need to get Greg off the books use his wages to try and tempt a Walcott or a Sturridge to come on loan and play games regularly for a world cup place.
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