The week leading up to the first home game of the season against West Brom was reasonably quiet. No one had tried to fuck us over in the transfer market and there had been no one incoming. Ronald Koeman played a blinder in his press conference when asked about “the speculation regarding Schneiderlin which won’t go away” by replying “it has gone away, he’s not going. You brought it up”. I like the fact that Ronald has good English but not good enough to speak in football managerspeak bollocks. Honesty is the name of the game. Mind you, it was more amusing with our last Dutch manager as Jan Poortvliet made me want to kick the TV screen in every time he opened his mouth.
West Brom have had a bit of a shocker recently. They only survived relegation due to other teams being more shit than they were and Pepe Mel was predictably sacked after less than half a season in charge. They found themselves without a manager at the same time as us and whilst we got a unanimously well-received appointment, they got Alan Irvine which is one of those appointments that is a master stroke or a complete disaster. My money is on the former. They’ve made a couple of decent looking signings in Joleon Lescott and Brown Ideye but their squad is certainly on paper one of the weakest in the division and we really need to be winning this one today. Hopefully, the decent performance at Anfield will fire us to a decent win today but I’m a bit concerned that the Baggies will park the bus and we’ll not be slick enough to break them down.
To the teams and we have the same starting XI as last week which is a bit of a surprise. Shane Long is on the bench against one of his former employers and is joined by Florin Gardos for the first time. Gaston Ramirez is again missing in keeping with his Saints career to date. Every time there’s an opportunity for him to maybe make a mark, he gets injured.
Away we go and by the 4th minute there was a clear indication that this was a new West Brom as by the 3rd minute last year, they’d started time wasting. The first incident of any note in the opposition penalty area came from Saints as Tadic burned the full back on the left and swung over a cross towards Pelle but though the big man got his head to it, it was a bit high and he couldn’t get it goalwards.
That was more or less it until the half hour mark when Steve Davis cushioned a good header down for Tadic in a crowded penalty area and his first time left footed strike was well kept out by Foster who got down well. Foster was put into difficulty by Mulumbu who took time off from his usual pursuit of chasing round moaning at the referee to knock it past his own goalkeeper in the right back position, allowing Tadic to swing over a cross which was comfortably over Pelle’s head. If ever there was an indicator of how shit the first half was, the fact that I’m talking about a cross over someone’s head is it. Half time, 0-0 and boring shite.
Koeman sent on Shane Long for Steve Davis and just after half time, West Brom sent on Ideye for Anichebe which at least meant that they had 11 players on the pitch. Tadic was still however proving to be our only bright spark and he did superbly to make a yard and dig out another cross from the left was this time headed over by Long. The Baggies then had a chance as the Belgian full back with the unpronounceable name cross picked out Ideye at the back stick but he headed into the side netting as 26000 Saints fans mouthed swear words as it looked like it was in. Well played Ryan Bertrand for giving him a nudge. Ideye was in action again as he started his dive before Jose actually got to him but luckily the ref didn’t buy it.
Mulumbu can always be relied upon to give you a free kick or two and we can also be relied upon to go chasing the referee about it. I guess he did play the ball, after first clearing Pelle’s leg out of the way as he tried to shield it. Up stepped JWP and curled it over the wall and saw it ping off the out side of the post and away.
With 20 minutes to go, West Brom had the best chance to win it as Ideye turned Fonte inside out and created a great chance for himself but the big man in goal came flying out to block it with his foot.
You know that thing that always happens in games? The big chance for one team or the other. Well, not a chance today, it was that bad. Dull and boring. West Brom were happy with a point and by the end, we probably were too. 27,000 plus fans in theground were just pleased that it was finished.
Fucking hell that was dull. People always talk about 0-0’s that were really entertaining but this wasn’t one of them. It was shit. We were one paced and lethargic in the first half and the same in the second which meant that it didn’t improve at all. Therefore – shit. Attack wise we are not getting enough players forward. Pelle is still adapting but we need to get players round him. The one bright spark is Tadic coming in from the left but in my opinion, in home games against average teams, we can’t afford to have a non-goal threat in the front three so Davis has to be in midfield three or nowhere. The second half team should have started but in truth, we were no better after half time. We are crying out for a winger on the right hand side as we are not going to get the best out of Pelle unless we get crosses in for him to attack.
On the subject of Graziano – I see the idiots are out in force and he’s getting slaughtered. I think this season will prove to be a season where most fans who have half a brain and a memory which goes back pre-Markus will want to avoid Twitter and message boards. We’ve been on a constant rise for the past 5 years so if you take the average Saints supporting 13 year old in 2009; he’s never known us have a season of transition or one where we basically haven’t improved. He’s now 18 and a fully fledged Twitter warrior. He’s like the fish in Finding Nemo who doesn’t have a memory. If you can remember back to the start of this blog entry, you’ll see I mentioned Jan Poortvliet. Have a look at that season’s record in 2008/2009, look at who our Chairman was, look at some of the players we had.
If you only have one of those short term memories then try and remember back to the start of last season when we couldn’t buy a goal from open play and our first home game was against Paolo Mussolini’s Sunderland who got twatted by everyone else but we scraped a draw with a last minute set piece goal from Fonte which should have been disallowed. Whilst it’s undoubtedly a disappointing result today, 1-1 with Sunderland last year was also a disappointing result. Let’s wait and see shall we.
We have the makings of a very decent side. The full backs are excellent and the central defence of Jose and Maya is solid if not spectacular. We still have Gardos to come in there and I reckon there’ll be another signing in that area as well. The midfield 3 of Big Vic, Morgan and JWP looks strong. JWP needs to produce more in the final third and I’ve every confidence that he will. The front 3 is where the issues are. Pelle of course needs to adapt and start scoring but Tadic already looks the real deal to me. I’m not too sure where Shane Long fits into things unless we play 4-4-2 but he may well settle into that right sided attacking role. He’s never going to be a prolific striker wherever he plays though which is why we need Pelle to start firing. Somehow of course though, we need some pace in the side which has been the case since J-Rod got injured at the tail end of last season.
Next up we have a League Cup game away at Millwall and in my opinion, Ronald needs to use the game to get the team to gel and maybe try few different combinations. As a result, I expect to see Kelvin in goal, Florin Gardos in defence and Shane Long up front with Pelle and Tadic. We really need to win that game to kickstart the league campaign.