Well after what I truly believe to be our worst performance since promotion (given the opposition) I’m going to keep this fairly short but not that sweet!
The fact that we finally came so close to losing to the Baggies says more about us than the Albion and there are some serious questions that need addressing. We really weren’t at the races and played without any tempo or real initiative and at the back looked exceedingly suspect.
To my mind we get pigeon-holed no matter how we play so we may as well do what we do well. For starters in our back four we should ditch the idea of playing midfielders at full back. Defensively we look weaker and we aren’t very (if at all) improved going forward because of the changes. I don’t see any real issue with Wilko and Higgy and I would play them every week.
Before the Baggies game Tone had the issue of Matty not being fit enough to start again against our friends from Smethwick but when he is I’m sure (or I’m hoping) that our usual quartet of Jermaine, Rory, Deano and Ethers will be reunited. That just leaves the disaster that is the idea of pairing Kenwyne with John Carew to sort out. Now big John has been a revelation since joining but there has been absolutely no indication that this combination will ever work and TP needs to get his head around that fact. We have precious few players who can really get at the opposition back line so with the news that Etherington was not 100% fit it seemed utter lunacy not to have Ricardo on from the start in place of the below par Jones.
As for the game itself we were fairly comfortable without really looking like scoring (apart from a couple of set-pieces) during the first half but managed to take the lead from Rory nodding a Pennant corner home after the break.
What followed was a perfect example of a team crawling up its own backside in the forlorn hope of holding out for three points. Credit to the Baggies, they had a real go and put us right on the back foot (for the first time in eons!) Although the goal they scored was clearly off-side nobody in the ground could really begrudge the Throstles an equalizer and if anything we were lucky to hang on to our solitary point.
The only real consolation for Stokies is that after a run of only 1 win against us in 26 league games, if they can’t beat us when we play so poorly then perhaps they never will taste victory against us again!
So on to East London and an important league game against an improving West Ham. This will not be an easy game as they have started to score goals and have some players in good form. I think most Stokies would take a point now, dust ourselves down and get ready for the quarter-final against the Hammers at the Brit.
A semi-final at the home of football would be great but we must still remain focussed on securing our Premier League status for another year. We still have work to do and the easiest way I can see us achieving these goals is by doing what we do best and being the Stoke City team that nobody likes to face.