It is hard to believe that West Bromwich Albion are seven points adrift of safety today (13th Feb). Their 3-nil defeat at Chelsea left them further behind in their quest to stay up and the manager “bounce” that usually follows a new appointment has not worked for Alan Pardew. It is a brave board which sacks Tony Pulis, a manager who has never been relegated.
I have some sympathy for Pardew and his team, which still looks more than capable of staying up. While the defence has been shipping goals it’s not long ago that Jonny Evans was being touted for a £50 million move elsewhere and defensive partners Hegazi and Dawson are not only decent players but chip in with the odd goal at the other end.
Daniel Sturridge looked a very good signing although his injury jinx has struck again. Jay Rodriguez was an England player before his long-term injury at Southampton and there is Venezuelan Salomon Rondon, who Pardew recently likened to the late Cyrille Regis. Ben Foster in goal has performed heroics at times.
And with the players struggling the midst of a tough run of fixtures, we now hear that both chief executive and chairman have been sacked. It is a decision which smacks of panic and – while I understand the alarm bells will be sounding among fans and management – surely people should realise a team that wins away at Liverpool in the FA Cup cannot be doing everything wrong.
There is enough quality among the playing staff to survive. Two straight wins could change the atmosphere at the Hawthorns and an FA Cup 5th round tie at home to Southampton and then Huddersfield at home in the league give them that opportunity. After that in the Premier League comes Watford away – Leicester at home, Bournemouth away, Burnley at home, Swansea at home. SIX league games they could win right there – this is certainly no lost cause although the changing of the guard at the top of the club has surely spread panic that comes with being bottom of the Premier League table.
So famous last words, but 9-4 for West Brom to stay up looks good value to me. I believe Alan Pardew with this new positive attitude and with players looking comfortable with ball at feet will turn things around. They have a clutch of fixtures they can realistically hope to win. This fascinating race to avoid relegation is set for another twist if the Baggies hold their nerve.