View from the opposition: ‘Pulis-ball’ is not proving popular with West Brom fans
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich-based West Brom supporter and former assistant editor of the EDP, Paul Durrant, is far from convinced by Albion's progress under Tony Pulis.
What have you made of West Brom's start to the season?
I suppose most of us would settle for 13th just at the moment, but it's been done playing some very negative football of which no-one at a club like ours should be proud. We certainly seem to have gone backwards under Pulis. Also, too many of his pre-season signings have not come good. It's as though Pulis bought players like James McClean and James Chester but hasn't had the faith in them to play them.
Do you feel Tony Pulis, inset, will bring success to The Hawthorns?
It all depends on how you define success. It's that age-old dilemma for fans: 'Do you settle for winning ugly at home or scraping an away point?' Given staying up is the first priority for all clubs like ours, I still expect a dog fight. It's clear the league has not settled down yet.
Who do you expect will be the Baggies' key player today?
Going forward, a lot depends on whether James Morrison is fit and can return from the ankle injury that ruled him out against Sunderland. He's been our most creative player of late, but Pulis replaced him with Stephane Sessegnon last Saturday, who was also impressive. At the back, we need a good game from Issac Yacob to hold it all together.
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Is Rickie Lambert proving to be a bit of a flop?
Big-time flop, more like. He's had his chances, but rarely seems on the same wavelength as those that might provide him with service, or his fellow strikers. I wouldn't expect him to start at Carrow Road.
Can much be read into the Capital One Cup match earlier this season?
No point in reading anything into that match. It was Norwich Reserves v the Baggies Reserves. A few more people could have done more to stake a claim, however.
Do you see Norwich as favourites ahead of the match?
Home advantage just about nudges the Canaries ahead, but it all depends on which West Brom team turn up and how Pulis sets them up. Expect nothing fancy, 4-1-4-1 at best. Too many of our players are told they'll get a nosebleed if they stray over the halfway line.
Which Canaries player will Albion fans be most wary of?
Anyone who plays down the right against Chris Brunt, our makeshift left-back. Brunt's a good player in midfield, but at full-back, any decent winger will skin him almost to the point of embarrassment. Wilfried Zaha had a field day against him for Palace a couple of weeks ago. He's simply not a left-back and shows up our lack of strength in depth in that position.
Were you surprised Youssouf Mulumbu was allowed to join City?
Mulumbu had been a loyal servant to the Albion and held the team together with Yacob for a season or more. But there's no doubt he was past his sell-by date towards the end of last season and I think Pulis was right to try and rebuild, even if the strategy hasn't been completely successful. I'd take his replacement, Jonny Evans, over Youssouf any day.
Do you expect Norwich to be involved in the relegation battle?
As I say, the league's not settled down at all yet, so at this stage, Norwich have to be in the mix. The Newcastle result will have hit them hard. Both teams can only take comfort at the moment from the fact that there are still worse teams such as Villa and Sunderland down there too.
And finally, what is your score prediction for the match?
Last game on Match of the Day tonight – 0-0.