The Diary

13 January 2009: Spiced Posh Set To Batter Baggies?

Greetings, once more ? and it?s wonderful to report that having seen the local temperature shoot up, in a matter of hours, from somewhere in the region of ?bloody hell, did some frozen bit of me just drop off, there?? to ?coo, it doesn?t half feel warm compared to last week!?, I am absolutely ecstatic ? not least because the concept of using the PC located in our conservatory is once more a viable one. Admittedly, I have had to use one of those portable radiator thingies to knock some additional heat into the place beforehand, but at least my place of work is now a snug little den, comparatively speaking.

That, of course, will mean that unless the cold spell returns again, I can now knock out future instalments from this location ? much, much more convenient, as the PC there is bang up to date, which in its turn means that I don?t have to transfer stuff from my ancient machine to CD, then have to dash downstairs with a hot disk in my hand in order to put everything on this machine for sending. A tedious process, if ever there was one. Things sure are looking up!

And, taking about ?things looking up?, last night, we went to visit old ?Victor Meldrew? still languishing in Sandwell Hospital with the dreaded lurgi ? but not in the CCU any longer! Champagne celebrations galore for our family, and liberally sprinkled with much relief all round, too. Now he?s free of all those wretched tubes and machines, finally ? bar the oxygen, which he?s still getting via a nasal tube ? and pumped up with enough antibiotics to bring Alexander Fleming back from the dead, the rest surely has to be a bit of a doddle for ?yer man?.

The most obvious legacy of the illness that almost did for him is that of severe weight-loss, rendering his facial features almost Mowbray-like in appearance, but given my sister?s wonderful talents as a cook, I strongly suspect that will be put right within a matter of weeks, following his as yet unspecified release date from ?durance vile?. Personally, I reckon he?ll be out by this weekend coming, given the fact that his home circumstances couldn?t be better, and what with all the new cases of serious chest disease still pouring into the place; even as late as eight last night, the staff were still going frantic trying to play ?musical beds? around the various wards!

At the moment, I?ve got our place to myself, the reason being that His Nibs is attending yet another conference overnight ? yet another good reason why I?m not going to Peterborough this evening; had I done so, I would have had to make my own way back to Halesowen, once the coaches dropped off at the Hawthorns; not a pleasant prospect for someone my age, at that time of night.

And in any case, it?s wonderfully warm and cosy in our living-room, right now, so, if it?s all the same to you, I?ll just be putting my feet up, grabbing hold of a good book, and occasionally checking on the score via ceefax or local radio ? assuming that Sky don?t have a football summary programme on tonight, of course.

It?s a bit of a strange business, this Marek Cech stuff coming through the airwaves, isn?t it? According to the piece I?ve just read, he?s alleging that Tony Mowbray lied to him; the player is now insisting that having promised him he would play in Saturday?s game versus Villa, Mogga then handed the place to Paul Robinson instead.

The quote: ?I feel like I?ve been lied to,? comes from a Slovakian news agency, apparently, and came via the Evening Mail. Cech was also quoted as saying: ?I felt I?d played well enough in the two previous games to play against Aston Villa, but the manager decided to pick Robinson, which I feel was wrong. As far as I?m concerned, I want to leave West Bromwich. I haven?t been given the opportunities to play that I believe I warrant.?

Then comes what?s probably the root cause of his little spat with Mogga: according to this account, Napoli are rumoured to be showing an interest in the guy ? and going by the way it was worded, that?s come from Cech himself, who then qualified this by stating: ?I?ve had no concrete offers from Napoli, but if I was then I?d want to speak to them.?

Forgetting the rest of it for the moment, I can?t believe for one minute that Mogga would deliberately tell such blatant lies to anyone ? it?s just not his style, is it? In a profession completely awash with morally dubious behaviour, economy with both truth and balance-sheets, not to mention highly questionable values, he?s always come across to me as Mister Straight And Honest, ?The Voice Of Sweet Reason?, if you like.

And, in any case, while Cech has had his moments with us when playing first-team football, I wouldn?t exactly go as far as to say he?s sparked collective imaginations, out there on Planet Hawthorns. With dummy-thrown-from-pram antics like that besmirching the manager?s name, all I can say is that Mogga would be well advised to offload the guy while he?s still got the chance.

Having someone nursing a Grand Canyon-sized grudge like that in the squad can only result in the well-known ?bad apple? effect i.e. one international-standard barrack room lawyer upsetting and disquieting all the rest, with all the obvious knock-on dangers such damaging behaviour can bring in its wake. Right now, we need people bearing grudges as big as that like a hole in our head. He?s toxic, Mogga. Get rid, and the sooner the better.

But it?s not all gloom and doom; in fact, someone?s been working pretty hard in the background to ensure we have a new boy to admire in subsequent weeks and months. The guy?s name is ARIZA Makukula, he?s 27, a Portugal international strriker coming from Benfica, and he?s about to sign for Albion on loan until the end of the season. He?s now due to fly into Birmingham later today, to undergo a medical sometime tomorrow.

Benfica have this morning announced that a deal had already been agreed for the Portuguese international striker, and that famous old club have also claimed that Albion will have the option of signing him permanently, come the end of the season if he impresses during his loan period.

Albion have yet to rubberstamp the move as he has yet to undergo all of his medical checks but it does sound very much to me as though he could sign on the dotted line later this week.Given my relative ignorance of the workings of Portuguese football, I was particularly pleased to see that Makukula has a pretty impressive football CV to his name, having previously played for French club Nantes, and Spanish clubs Real Valladoid and Sevilla.

Should everything finally go according to plan ? and remember, this is ALBION we?re banging on about, here ? our striking options will be increased enormously. Hell, we might even start to bang in some goals, again! Avoid the drop? No, I?m not THAT daft, am I?

But there might be a nasty little sting in the tail to all this, in the form of alarming reports that Harry Redknapp might interested in signing Roman Bednar for currently-ailing Spurs. If that is the case, it would go a hell of a long way towards explaining why we?ve gone for the Benfica lad.

I do take some comfort in the fact that the story appears to have come from his agent, who would, of course, have a vested interest in getting his player a much better deal, be it with our lot, or with ?Arry?s London boys. The guy is also alleging that other Premier League sides are sniffing around our chairman?s skirts for a piece of the Bednar action.

We?ve heard all this kind of stuff before, of course, and seemingly coming from his agent, even then, but how much is plain ornery hot air, and how much cold fact, I wouldn?t like to say. I would guess, however, that tonight?s starting line-up at Peterborough might provide us with something of a clue; if he?s in, then one might assume Albion aren?t looking for alternatives, should he leave, well not at this stage, anyway. Or might Albion be simply resting him? Dearie, dearie me, I think I need a bloody good lie-down!

So who will be participating in Posh?s cultural Cup soiree, this evening? One face missing for sure will be James Morrison, Same old story (and I?m sure Mogga has a suitable pre-recorded message installed on his ansaphone for the benefit of news-hungry journos, by now), a hamstring, the severity of which is is uknown, at this stage of the game, leaving Albion, on tenterhooks, once more, awaiting test/scan results.

Given our recent track record concerning Mogga?s little gaggle of wounded soldiers, I?m not exactly getting my hopes up about this one! And, just to rub additional quantities of sodium chloride into the wound, the nature of this enormously annoying medical beast will almost certainly rule him out for Saturday?s Boro game, as well. Has someone from the club been putting a pair of well-aimed Size Nine boots into the local black cat population, or something?

Additionally, it?s almost certain that Zoobie won?t be featuring, either. With him, the problem?s a knee injury, and one that?s seen him miss our last two games, with this one pretty much written off also. Tex? Our recent calf victim is back in training, apparently, and might - just might - be OK for tonight, although I doubt it, quite frankly.

One ominous note about tonight?s replay; while we?ve been able to play in the bitterly cold weather, Posh have had to postpone their last two, which means they?ve been kicking their heels doing nothing for quite some time, now ? and because of that, collectively raring for some real matchday action, no doubt. Needless to say, the enforced rest has given their injured more than ample time to get fit, again. That means a probable start for defender Tom Willims, now firing on all cylinders following a knee problem.

One non-starter for Posh ? on-loan Andrew Crofts, a midfielder, ineligible to play by virtue of an earlier Cup appearance for his ?proper? club, Gillingham. And they?ll also be light on two more players i.e.: Chris Westwood, now on loan to Cheltenham, and Liam Hatch, back with Darlington on another months loan. Fellow striker Scott Rendell could be in, though, after his move to Cambridge fell through, and Ferguson's only long-term absentees are Jamie Day (back) and Shane Blackett (shoulder).

What I didn?t know about tonight was the fact that Mark Venus and Posh gaffer Darren Ferguson are pretty good mates; were they really members of the same Dingles side, all those years ago? Blimey! Apparently, the track records of both sides when engaged in games at London Road is just about even-stevens, with three wins each for both sides, with but a single draw chucked in for luck. Our most recent clashes, League Cup and FA Cup, finished with 2-0 and 3-0 victories for us, of course.

My thoughts? In complete contrast to last season?s double Cup-fun-fest, we?re going to find things pretty hard going, tonight, I suspect. Last season, we were on a high on both occasions we played them; this time, we?re the ones with the morale and poor-scoring problems and, if there is disaffection rumbling quietly away inside the camp, it?s not going to help one little bit. I forsee a narrow win for Peterborough. Sorry.

But let me rejoice at one bit of happy news. Thanks to the efforts of our mate Norm, I can now enjoy a reasonable amoun of light in our living-room. The problem? All our fairly-new uplighters gave up the ghost in rapid succession yesterday, leaving me in something approaching Stygian darkness last night. One quick phone call, and there he was, this morning, putting at least one of them to rights for use this evening. And all for the cost of a bottle of Lamb?s Navy Rum! Mind you, had I engaged a pukka electrician, and he?d turned out to be a Dingle, it wouldn?t so much have been a case of ?Let There Be Light!? as ?Let There Be S***e!?

 - Glynis Wright

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