Writer: Lord Shepherd
Date:Saturday April 11 2009
11 April 2009
The Baggies travel to Fratton Park with only the slightest hope of staving off relegation. A win today would be welcome but in the grand scheme of things will probably only be a consolation in a hugely disappointing season that had held so much promise for the West Brom faithful.
This is undoubtedly a must win game for both clubs but West Brom have had a lot of those recently and have surrendered in every game. It has appeared as though the opposition has wanted it far more than the players in blue and white stripes and that has been the hardest thing to swallow for supporters. Albion's manager, Tony Mowbray, has been applauded for sticking to his principles in the Premier League but those principles have borne absolutely no resemblance to those on display in the Championship winning season. The Baggies chief has failed miserably this season with his team selections and lack of tactical nous whilst the likes of Tony Pulis and Phil Brown have seemed to find a formula that has made them competitive in the Premier League. To his credit Mowbray has admitted he has made mistakes but he continues to make them and rumour has it that the Club's Board are becoming increasingly disappointed with the way the season has unfolded and are seriously questioning whether to pull the plug on the Manager's reign sooner rather than later.
Having spent over £22 million in the Summer the Board and supporters expected and wanted better.
For an intelligent man Tony Mowbray has made plenty of howlers when speaking to the Press. Who can forget how he poured scorn on Roy Keane's Sunderland following a home defeat the season Albion failed to win promotion through the play offs and Sunderland finished as Champions? He also upset Martin O'Neill earlier this season by claiming that Villa weren't interested in playing football after they had beaten the Baggies at Villa Park to do the double.
Still Mowbray feels he is a better manager now following his season of failure:
"How am I doing this year? I am the same manager I was last year that took the accolades.
"I think I am actually a better manager from the experiences this year, sitting, listening and talking to some world class managers with some of the best teams in the world.
"I like to think I can bring a conversation into a manager`s office, sitting and talking about football, they seem to open up and want to talk about how they see football.
"If you can`t learn from these people then you`ll never become a better manager and yet here we are, sitting at the bottom of the league and the perception is that maybe we got lucky last year."
"Ultimately I think that`s one of my strengths and it`s what I do. I try to improve footballers."
Most fans will disagree with Mowbray's assessment.
Glen Johnson is suspended so the error strewn Younes Kaboul is likely to play instead.
Jermaine Pennant will also play.
(Pompey) James, Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Pennant, Mullins, Hughes, Nugent, Krancjar, Crouch. Subs: Begovic, Blehadj, Pamarot, Basinas, Utaka, Kanu, Gekas.
Crouch scored at the Hawthorns and I fully expect him to breach the Baggies defence again today.
Meite could come in for Martis to further damage the confidence of the young man.
(West Brom) West Brom: Carson, Zuiverloon, Meite, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison, Greening, Koren, Dorrans, Brunt, Fortune. Subs: Kiely, Hoefkens, Menseguez, Borja Valero, Simpson, Mulumbu, Chris Woods
Dorrans has been impressive in his appearances to date.
3-1 to Pompey
Away to Man City on 18 April.
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Date:Saturday April 11 2009
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