West Brom supremo Tony Mowbray said before the season began, "Don`t judge me now, see how we are doing 10-11 games in." With that milestone now passed, I am here evaluating the start to the season made by the Baggies and passing judgement on the manager.
The table never lies
The current league table is not happy viewing for Albion fans. After an encouraging start that saw us hit the heights of seventh place, one point from four games, one of which was a home tie against fellow promoted side Hull City, has left the Baggies in the bottom three, only 2 points above a resurgent Tottenham.
19 West Brom
However, one win, other results depending, would elevate the throstles right back up to 8th, such is the level of competition in the top flight this season. Of course, our next match is against 2nd place Liverpool, and after that we play top of the table Chelsea. It`s not all bad, both games are on the tele, but exposure is about all we can expect from these two fixtures, as even one of the six points would be a bonus. Two losses will probably put us on the bottom of the pile, and be a worrying drain on the confidence of players and staff (though another result, however unlikely, could happen). Should we find ourselves in that situation it will be the truest test of Mr. Mowbray to see how he responds - and I am under no illusions as to the size of that task.
In the matches so far we have often outplayed our opponents; think Everton at home, the first half against Hull, the second half against Newcastle and the game at Bolton - yet a lack of edge in front of goal, coupled with glaring errors at the back, have cost us dear. Mowbray has pinpointed these deficiencies, and we can only hope he successfully addresses them.
All in it together
One thing that has already set this season some way apart from our previous top flight dalliances if the quality of the squad. Particularly Scott Carson, Jonas Olssen, Borja Valero and Gianni Zuiverloon all possess a touch of class above and beyond what we have had before. Carson especially is having a superb season, and many of the goals we have conceded he was faultless for. With Meite soon to return and shore up the back line after Ryan Donk, a player Mowbray highlighted as one for the future, has recently had a lapse in form, and at the other end of the pitch Ishmael Miller finally opened his account with a sublime goal against Newcastle. This strike was followed up with another top goal against Blackburn, and it looks like if Mowbray will persevere with a 4-4-2 with Miller partnering Bednar this may alleviate some of our striker worries, at least until January.
Mowbray is working with a squad of mostly very young players; and while that may be cause for concern it also suggests there is a huge amount of potential for him to turn into something concrete. It is clear we are in for a long season - but as a promoted side was it ever going to be any different? There have been countless surprises already this season, and there are sure to be more, with Mowbray no doubt springing a few of his own. I think Mowbray is the man for the job, and all we can do is get behind the team and enjoy the ride.