I Love That We Are No Longer A Soft Touch Thanks To Clarke

Away days in Stoke-On-Trent usually see the Baggies return empty handed so a draw is a creditable result and should secure a top-half finish. Don't ask about the Potters, though - it's no surprise that time is running out for Tony Pulis...
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Away days in Stoke-On-Trent usually see the Baggies return empty handed so a draw is a creditable result and should secure a top-half finish. Don't ask about the Potters, though - it's no surprise that time is running out for Tony Pulis...

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West Brom's Britannia Point Showed Their Class And Proved That Stoke City Are In Trouble

Maybe we all should have followed Steve Clarke’s advice and called it quits at half time and missed the torrential rain that battered the Potteries as full time approached.

Around 2,100 Baggies travelled to watch a tedious, midfield dominated game that never really looked like producing a goal and it took the hosts 92 minutes to register a shot on target. Ironically, they should have punished us and maybe on another day in the past 20 years or so, would have walked away with all 3 points.

However, this is a new West Brom, an Albion full of character and fight and one that seems to have learned from the mistakes of the past. In previous years we’ve travelled to Stoke and been outmuscled and out-battled. Even the times when we’ve dominated the game and created far more chances, we’ve more often than not been sent back down the M6 with our tails between our legs. Solid performances from Foster, McCauley, Olsson, Jones, Mulumbu, Yacob and Brunt contributed to this result. Definitely a point gained rather than two lost.

We are getting the rub of the green at the moment. The disallowed goal against Swansea and the Olsson deflection landing the right side of the post on Saturday are evidence of this from an Albion perspective. Due to our improving side and the luck it’s getting, there is optimism around The Hawthorns and Saturday’s draw ensures that we remain 10 points clear of Stoke. We have pretty much ensured a top half finish and that is some accomplishment.

Let’s cast our minds back to last May when Roy Hodgson, the best manager we have ever had, was departing for England and we were all unsure how the next appointment would pan out. The FA was undoing all the hard work and we were about to take on a Head Coach with no previous managerial experience.

A gamble? Yes, most definitely, but in Jeremy Peace we trust and we find ourselves still in the hunt for a European place with 8 games remaining. We sometimes forget that Clarke is still learning his trade at any level let alone in the harsh glare of the Premier League. It has been a turbulent season off the pitch with the whole Odemwingie saga but he has handled the situation impeccably.

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Stoke City, Passion And Away Days: Thanks For The Memories Dad

Sure there have been frustrating times: Manchester City, Newcastle, Reading away, all games from which West Brom should have gained at least one point and took nothing, but when has football gone exactly the way we expect?

From Stoke City’s point of view, Saturday was an eye opener for me. After spending years working as a DJ at Stoke-on-Trent’s biggest nightclub I made quite a few Stokie friends so we had a chat over a pint before the game and it seems all is not well in the camp.

They are becoming sick of the awful football served up by their team. They no longer enjoy going to the Brit to watch it. This is a far cry from 3/4 years ago where the attitude was ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’. I have always said that the day Stoke fans get on the back of the manager/players is the day football as it used to be, has officially died. These are some of the most loyal supporters in the land.

I will say though to the Pulis Out brigade, be careful what you wish for. Take a look at Charlton and more recently our neighbours Wolves. The grass isn’t always greener.

We at Albion thankfully don’t have the same problem. At times our football is not great but that is to be expected in this league and one of the reasons Clarke was brought in was to continue the work Roy had done. On the whole though, we get the ball down and play football the way it should be played.

Personally I don’t think we will finish any higher than 8th this season, but no lower than 10th – and that will be a massive achievement for a club of our size. It's a good time to be a Baggie. Get those early bird season tickets bought, stand up and join us for the ride!