Albion Till We Die Interview
MOMS was asked by Mark Thomas co-editor of Albion website Albion Till We Die to do an interview ahead of the derby clash, so it’d be rude not to ask a few questions in return. May the best team win and all that!
How long a fan?
My dad took me to my first games during the 1981/82 season so over 30 years now of which I’ve been a season ticket holder for around 20 of those.
Highlight of supporting the club?
I did enjoy our promotion under Ossie Ardiles in 1993 when years of decline finally ended whilst the last 10 years have given us Baggies numerous unforgettable moments, four promotions, a FA Cup semi-final, two trips to Wembley and of course the Great Escape in 2005. If I had to pick one though it would be our first promotion to the Premier League back in 2002 under Gary Megson.
Favourite current West Brom player?
Youssouf Mulumbu – A vastly underrated player. Can pass, tackle, has bundles of energy and capable of scoring important goals as Villa fans may recall.
Favourite all-time West Brom player?
Without a doubt Cyrille Regis, he was the one player I always wanted to be growing up. Pace, power, scorer of fantastic goals, would be worth a fortune these days.
Most treasured Baggies item?
I am a big memorabilia collector so it really is hard to choose just the one thing, if pushed though it would probably be one of my replica shirts from childhood.
Thoughts on last season and Roy Hodgson taking the England job?
It was a strange season really. Even though we finished 10th and in most people’s eyes had a good season, we didn’t really play that well too often. We definitely were hard to beat but much of the flair from the Mowbray and Di Matteo eras disappeared.
As for Hodgson I was disappointed to see him leave, with two or three decent signings I felt he was capable of taking us into the top 7 or 8. From an England fans’ viewpoint however I would have actually preferred Harry Redknapp!
Did you have a laugh at the Alex McLeish situation at Villa?
Definitely and to be fair I don’t think it was just us Baggies or even the Bluenoses laughing. It really was a shocking decision to appoint him and quite predictably it backfired big-time.
What was the fan’s reaction to Steve Clarke’s appointment and what do you make of Albion’s start to the season?
I’d be lying if I said he was a popular choice. I think most fans would have preferred someone more experienced, more of a ‘name’, but it was Clarke who got the job so we have to back him.
Our start to the season has been better than anyone of us predicted. Excellent performances and results against Liverpool and Everton have got us off to a flyer. The only real disappointment is crashing out of the Capital One Cup in midweek, perhaps our best chance of winning silverware gone.
Who’s been your best player and also best new signing so far?
Our best player so far has been Jonas Olsson, the king-pin of our defence. Our fortunes this season probably depend on him more than any other player.
Best signing so far goes to free signing Claudio Yacob. The Argentinian midfielder goes about his job quietly but effectively and has formed a super little partnership with Mulumbu in the middle of the park.
Any weakness in the team or anybody you’re not happy about?
Right-back is a huge problem for us at the moment with Steven Reid injured. His replacement Billy Jones certainly puts the effort in but is nowhere near good for the Premier League, definitely a weak link.
How do Albion fans rate ex-Villa player Liam Ridgewell?
He’s been pretty decent for us so far to be fair. Rarely has a bad game and is pretty dependable. His Premier League experience clearly shows.
Prediction and thoughts for the season?
Despite our good start I expect us to fall away and finish around mid-table again which most Albion fans would probably be happy with. As said previously though much depends on if Jonas Olsson and his partner in the centre of defence Gareth McAuley can stay fit and available for selection. The options if either of them are ruled out for long are pretty poor.
Prediction and thoughts for Villa’s season?
I think Villa may struggle this season although as long as Darren Bent stays fit you may have enough firepower to avoid a relegation battle. There really doesn’t seem to be the quality in the squad of previous years though. As Albion so painfully found out in the 1980’s if you sell your best players without replacing them there’s only one direction the club will go.
Which one Villa player would you have at Albion?
Up until the last 12 months I would have said Shay Given, one of the best keepers of his generation if not the best. Sadly though time seems to have finally caught up with him so I’m going to say Agbonlahor. Pacy, tricky and a decent goalscorer, I would much prefer he was lining up for us on Sunday instead of against us.
Any particular memory of Villa v Albion games that stands out?
After watching you turn us over numerous times during the 80s and 90s it really was enjoyable to watch us beat you for the first time in a long time in 2010/11, especially given that we did it with a late goal and with 10 men.
Who’s going to be the Premier League Champions?
Chelsea look strong at the moment and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pip Manchester City to it. Di Matteo definitely seems to have the knack of winning things which can only help.
Three teams for the drop?
I think Southampton and Norwich will probably go and I have a feeling Swansea may struggle despite their good start to the season.
Prediction for the derby?
I think it will be a tight game, and the results in midweek probably helped you more than us, we’re certainly not as confident now as we were a week ago.
I’m going to say 1-1.
Thanks to Mark Thomas @ www.albiontillwedie.co.uk
Follow MOMS on Twitter at @oldmansaid