The Baggies View
Ahead of this weekend’s trip to the Hawthorns, we had a chat with resident Baggie Dan Watts from popular fan site EighteenSeventyEight to find out about their season so far.
Q. The last time we met, the Baggies won at Selhurst Park. Perhaps you could share your thoughts on the game?
It was a cracking day out. Always enjoy the old fashioned and traditional feel you get at Selhurst Park. Rather that than the soulless new stadiums popping up all over the country. You never know what to expect with the first game of the season so to pick up all three points was pleasing. I remember Salomon Rondon having a cracker, of course also netting the winner. On his day he is a real handful for any defence.
Q. How has the season gone for you since then?
Ridiculously good. Surprisingly so, too. It’s been slow progress to get to this point, mind. We are scoring plenty of goals this season, especially at home, already surpassing last seasons strike tally. Tony Pulis has us playing a brand of football not too dissimilar to how he kept yourselves up a couple of years back. Pressure on the opposing team down the wings, quick counter attacks, solid defence and we’re lethal from set plays. Gareth McAuley, our 37 year old centre back, has scored no less than six times in the Premier League.
Q. When we spoke last season, there was a lot of discontent among the fans. Is that still the case?
There are some that won’t really ever warm to Pulis. I’m sure your fan base gets that. However, to have any unkind words when we’ve reached 40 points before March and have had some fantastic results along the way would be daft. In matches against teams below us in the league we have lost just one all season (Bournemouth away). We are getting results against the teams we are able to realistically compete with. Pulis’ relationship with the supporters is much improved. Personally, I don’t adore the man but I’m behind everything we’re currently doing and hope things continue in the same vain.
Q. How do you feel the club did in the January transfer window and were all needs addressed?
Maybe slightly underwhelming at the time, with just the two signings in Jake Livermore from Hull City and Marc Wilson from Bournemouth on loan. But the clubs stance that Albion won’t just sign players for the sake of it or deals that aren’t right for the club has seen us steadily build a good side over the last couple of years so there can be no real complaints. Jake Livermore is an energetic and willing player, who is currently keeping Claudio Yacob out the side, and that’s no mean feat.
Q. Were you glad to see the back of Saido Berahino following his move to Stoke City?
Yes, yes, yes. What an absolute joke that boy is. The way he took the piss out of the club I spend a lot of money following makes me angry. I hope he fails miserably. There I said it!
Q. With Ben Foster in terrific form this season, do you think he is worthy of a return to the England squad?
Absolutely. Not just a return to the squad, he should start. Jay [TEB editor] knows my feelings on the lack of quality in that department for the national side and if Joe Hart can be considered a better choice than Ben Foster at this current time then Gareth Southgate needs some new spectacles. Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford will no doubt be the choices in the coming years but Foster’s calmness in between the sticks is just what England need right now.
Q. Perhaps you could share your view on Palace this season, maybe without mentioning our goalkeeper?
Wayne Hennessey, as I know full well from his days at our rival club Wolverhampton Wanderers, is a complete flapper of a goalie. Once his confidence is hit, it must be a tough watch for Palace fans with him in goal. I’ve never been a fan. Julian Speroni has to be your better option until Steve Mandanda can return.
Q. Name one player from each team that the opposition should be concerned about?
For the Albion I’d be concerned about Christian Benteke. Lethal finisher who has plenty of strength, he’s very decisive and direct, I like him. A shame he chose Palace above ourselves in the summer.
For Palace, they have to be worried about Matty Phillips should he return from injury. He’s been lethal the last few months. Goals, assists, no fear, tricks up his sleeve and he’s a strong lad too. If he’s unavailable, Rondon is overdue a goal.
I can’t not predict an Albion win in this one. A 2-1 Baggies victory. I genuinely hope Palace stay up though, especially if it’s at the expense of Leicester City after the way they dealt with Claudio Ranieri.
Q. And finally, the floor is yours to promote what you do along with any projects that you are working on.
Formerly baggiesfacts.com and now eighteenseventyeight.net, we cover Albion mainly on Twitter and through opinion pieces from our writers. Feel free to check us out or follow us on Twitter. We’re always willing to engage with opposing teams supporters on plenty of topics. Good luck for the rest of the season, after Saturday of course!