Reasons to be cheerful
IT'S NEVER been easy being a Baggies supporter.
Let`s face it, with the players we have and the quality of the football we`ve been playing this season we should be walking this league.
But we`re not. Why? Because we`re the Albion.
You have to be an optimist if you`re going to be a Baggie survivor. Your FA Cup has to be half full, never half empty (remember we`ve lifted the trophy five times and five times we`ve been losing finalists).
Life with the Albion will always be a roller-coaster… and this season will be no different.
Except that this time the promise is very definitely there.
This time we have class oozing through the team. It may not always be apparent but it can suddenly and devastatingly appear - Chris Brunt`s sublime dummy and cross for the first goal on Saturday, Pele`s exquisite pass to set Craig Beattie free to curl in a wonderful winner being prime and recent examples.
We started the season with virtually a new team and inevitably they needed time to gel, time to get used to a system that emphasises qualities all too often missing in football today, a commitment to attacking opponents and to entertaining.
Mowbray`s class of 07/08 has been together for barely four months, yet real progress has been made in that short time. It may yet become a master class.
The prevailing wisdom is that you can`t get out of this league by playing attractive football. Hopefully we can prove wrong these purveyors of doom and gloom, show them that joyful football can also be winning football.
So far we`ve survived some woeful refereeing (Sheffield Wednesday being the prime example, though there are many others), an horrendous crop of injuries coinciding with suspensions for key players and - always our biggest enemy - inconsistency in performance to remain in one of the two automatic promotion places.
As we approach the halfway point in the season, there are reasons to be cheerful.
Talismanic striker Kevin Phillips should be back in action soon, hopefully to resume his prolific partnership with the raw but talented Ishmael Miller, with Roman Bednar and Beattie hovering in the background to keep them on their toes.
Chris Brunt`s growing confidence, Jonathan Greening`s leadership, Robert Koren`s workrate, Paul Robinson`s determination, Filipe Teixeira's dynamism, these are important influences in the team blend.
We need, perhaps, another player or two to throw into the mix, a centre defender and defensive midfielder. Important positions demanding qualities of leadership and determination. Not easy to find, yet the manager has so far proved adept at unearthing hidden gems.
Let us hope he can work the oracle again.