Writer: Lord Shepherd
Date:Saturday October 4 2008
4 October 2008
Zoltan Gera returns to the Hawthorns with his Fulham side and he might have expected his big spending side to be leading the Baggies in the table at this early stage of the season. However, should Tony Mowbray's side win today they will sit four points ahead of Roy Hodgson's Cottagers.
Although nobody at the Albion will be counting any chickens before they have hatched it has still been a hugely encouraging start to the season and Zolly may feel that he was wrong to jump ship to a relegation rival.
A lot has been made of Zolly's return and whether he will receive the same abuse that Curtis Davies received on his return with Villa. However, Gera need not worry about his return as he is remembered fondly by the fans for the efforts that he put into first keeping Albion in the Premier League and when they were relegated helping them gain promotion again.
For Davies' part he helped relegate the Baggies in his first season and then he missed a large percentage of the following season through injury but still he claimed that he was too good for the Albion and sulked and moaned until he was allowed to leave. When he did leave he took it upon himself to comment upon anything and everything Albion.
Zolly you have nothing to fear and you are assured of a welcoming return.
Now back to the game. Following Tony Mowbray's insistence last week that he was to stick to a 451 formation this website undertook a survey of fans views and it seems that the vast majority, a massive 73%, back the managers' judgement. However, following the recent injuries to Chris Brunt and Do Heon Kim Tony Mowbray has to decide whether to change to the 442 formation favoured by 21% of fans surveyed.
Should Mowbray decide to go 442 it will almost certainly mean that Miller will partner Bednar up front with very little change to the remainder of the team. However, should the Manager stick to his favoured 451 it must surely mean a start for Marek Cech. He hasn't started a game since the trip to Arsenal when her turned up on the right hand side instead of his favoured left midfield position.
I have a sneaky feeling that Mowbray may choose to switch to 442 today.
'I sit on my bench and I honestly don't know what the general support-base are thinking. I know Curtis got a negative reaction when he came back here.
'Zoltan is a lovely man, a good guy and I think he was looking after his future when he went to Fulham. It appears to me it was about security for Zoltan when he left without going in-depth about contracts.
'I'm talking about the way our contracts are structured slightly different to the way they are at Fulham. He probably gets slightly more security for the next four or five years at Fulham.
'But good luck to the lad and, while he was under contract at our football club, he gave everything he could all of the time I was here. It was a delight to work with him.
'He's a lovely personality and a lovely guy. He appears to have started his career at Fulham well and has scored a couple of goals.'
'If the fans respect what Zoltan did for their football club in his days here, then they should give him a decent reception and then get on with the game.
'If they don't like the way he exited from West Brom, then I'm sure they'll let him know.
'But I'm only really interested in the current crop of players we've got here at Albion and trying to get a result against a team that aren't going to finish in the top four or six and we should be competing with.
'We need to try and get a result against them.'
Chris Brunt and Kim are both definitely out and the game will come too soon for Teixeira who is pencilled in for a return against Manchester United.
West Brom (from): Carson, Kiely, Zuiverloon, Hoefkens, Barnett, Donk, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison, Greening, Koren, Cech, Moore, Miller, Valero, Bednar, MacDonald, Pele.
Ishy will be looking to get off the mark this season after missing three gilt edged chance against Boro last week. I'm backing him to score in style.
With Andy Johnson suspended and Bobby Zamora unwell ex Wolves player Seol Ki Hyeon could play up front.
Fulham (from) Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Gera; Zamora, Seol, Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Dempsey, Andreasen, Kallio, Baird, Stoor, Gray.
Who else but Zolly Gera. Let's hope he does not continue the trend of scoring against your old club.
HEAD TO HEAD RESULTS
WBA Draw FULHAM
League 29 13 20
Premier 1 2 3
HEAD TO HEAD at the Hawthorns
WBA Draw FULHAM
League 18 16 7
Premier 1 2 0
Mark Halsey, possibly the fussiest referee in the Premier League.
3-1 with an Ishmael Miller hat trick.
Away at Old Trafford on 18 October 2008. Live on Setanta.
Date:Saturday October 4 2008
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