With Manchester United facing West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday, Iain Bate, author of West Bromwich Albion – Mad will share his thoughts and offer an insight into our opponents.
Read my pre-match thoughts from a Man United perspective here: Match Preview: Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion
Stretford End Arising: What are your thoughts on Saturday’s game? How are West Brom likely to line up? Who are the players United should keep an eye on?
West Bromwich Albion – Mad: I think most Albion fans are looking forward to Saturday’s game. The Baggies are playing well and are full of confidence after beating Arsenal at The Emirates a few weeks ago. If fit, Jerome Thomas and Peter Odemwingie are our two main threats – although it looks as though they will both miss the OT game through injury. James Morrison and Youssouf Mulumbu have also been good in recent weeks. Left back Nicky Shorey is also back to his best.
SEA: Tell us about Roberto Di Matteo – what type of manager is he? Personally, I find it refreshing that a young manager is impressing and has been allowed the opportunity to prove himself, rather than see the same old faces being recycled.
WBA – Mad: When RDM was given the job the majority of Albion fans were underwhelmed. He’d only had one full season as a boss at MK Dons so his managerial experience wasn’t exactly what he had hoped for. However, Robbie, Eddie Newton and former Manchester United player Michael Appleton have done a fantastic job. The last time we were in this division we were too lightweight and we had now attacking edge. Di Matteo has now made us more difficult to beat with the additions of experienced pros such as Paul Scharner and Steven Reid. During one of his first interviews as Albion manager he was asked what type of football he played. His reply was just what we were hoping for – “winning football”. In the main he’s been true to his word as well!
SEA: Which of the new summer signings have you been impressed by and who has disappointed?
WBA – Mad: I suppose that Peter Odemwingie would be the stand out summer signing. He’s currently the league’s Player-of-the-Month and looks like the striker we’ve always lacked in the top flight. None of the summer additions have really disappointed. The club has used its resources well.
SEA: The Baggies have already played several tough fixtures this season and find themselves sitting pretty in sixth. Why have West Brom started so well when many were tipping them for relegation?
WBA – Mad: I think it’s an obvious choice to tip the relegated sides to go down because of the gulf in class between the Championship and the Premier League. Albion are organised this season and have no fear. RDM has used his own confidence and experience as a player to great effect in making the Baggies players believe they can go to places like Arsenal, score three goals and get three points. Under the last regime, games against the top-four were written off as defeats before a ball had even been kicked. Expect to see a different Albion this Saturday!
SEA: In recent years West Brom has flittered between divisions. This season can the Baggies establish themselves as a Premier League club?
WBA – Mad: I hope so. Albion fans are sick of yo-yoing between the two divisions. The additions of experienced pros will hopefully see us have a good successful season. Our start has been more than any of us could’ve have expected, so long may it continue.
SEA: Which young Baggie is worth keeping an eye on for the future?
WBA – Mad: For the first time in a couple of decades Albion have a group of Academy graduates which have the potential to go on and be good players. Chris Wood recently featured for New Zealand in the World Cup – remember the young lad who turned Cannavaro? He’s currently on loan at Barnsley to gain more first team experience and scored his first international goal in the week. Then there’s George Thorne. He’s only 17 but is already in the England Under-19 set up. He became Albion’s youngest debutant for 40-years last season when he came on against Sheffield Wednesday. There’s been a lot of interest shown in Thorne. Let’s hope he can fulfil his potential and become a successful Albion player in the past.
SEA: Which is your favourite West Brom v Manchester United match?
WBA – Mad: You know what I’m going to say don’t you? December 30th, 1978. Manchester United 3 West Bromwich Albion 5. Laurie Cunningham was in his prime and unstoppable. Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown was banging them in from midfield and Cyrille Regis was starting to establish himself as England’s best centre forward of his era. Albion were stunning that day and I can watch the highlights over and over. I love it when Regis scores and the commentator screams down the microphone: “oh, what a goal!” Fantastic stuff.
SEA: Who is your all time favourite West Brom player?
WBA – Mad: Bob Taylor was my childhood hero. Manchester United fans will remember him as the player who started the rift between Sheringham and Cole when he scored at OT. ‘Super’ Bob has retired now but he still follows the Baggies.
SEA: Thank you very much, Iain. I won’t wish you luck for Saturday, but I will for the remainder of the season.
If you wish to discuss this issue further with myself or other members of the Stretford End Arising community, you can do so in the Stretford End Arising Forum