Duncan Hodgkiss gives his verdict on Albion's defeat

Following a rather unsavoury chapter in West Brom’s illustrious history, which can only be described as one of those odd episodes from the X-Files – it had nothing to do with main plot or theme, but ran with one of its quirky and surreal storylines  that shall now be known as ‘The Peter Files’ – we hosted Tottenham.

I’m sure Spurs fans will appreciate the sub-plot, coming from such a wealth of comedic talent, namely, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Groucho Marx and Frankie Boyle! Why are you laughing? Who’s asking? I dunno? Aren’t you supposed to answer a question with a question? Yadda yadda.

What we witnessed today was a summary of not just recent fortunes but how the season has panned out for us thus far…

The line up for West Brom yesterday, with Long and Lukaku up front, maybe sheds an insight into the psyche of the increasingly beleaguered manager Steve Clarke. Only now is the pressure of the job beginning to tell and only now does he respond with such a tactic against one of the divisions ‘grateful if you get anything’ teams.   

The game KOs. There’s a good atmosphere, many Baggies fans getting behind the team. Dawson makes an early couple of fouls, possibly seeking retribution for his distant cousin being sidelined and loaned out to lower league opposition. Lukaku and Long look to be linking well, and, on 5 mins, Long latches onto a header by Lukaku only to be thwarted by the onrushing Loris. He should have done better. On 7 mins Lukaku tests out Loris and he saves well.  

A few chants start circulating from the away end about someone who is a distant memory and should never pull on the blue and white again. Someone who came from a rough working class area and ultimately ends up plying his trade in the lower divisions… He drives down the left lane… He Parks up down the right…

Tottenham hit back with some pressure of their own. The effervescent Parker pulling the strings and wrestling control of the midfield. Dempsey has a chance but his weak header goes wide.

Bale starts to assert his authority on proceedings, a terrific run into the box past three defenders and a cross which is cleared for a corner. The corner comes to nothing. A bright opening from the Baggies followed by a dominant spell by Spurs. Game on. The game opens up and both teams thrust and counter thrust, with Baggies wasting the better openings.

Tottenham free kick, dangerous position, wasted by Bale as it sailed high into the Birmingham Road. Defoe injured, subbed. Jacob looks out of sorts following lengthy spell out. Dorrans wrestled out of way on Tottenham free kick that should have been picked by officials.

On 42 mins Lukaku breaks free – in true Freddie Mercury style – but wastes the chance to score. Unlike Freddie in the Blue Oyster (de der er de de derrrr). Defoe’s replacement Holtby looks lively.

Tottenham chance, Bale drives for goal, to be thwarted by Foster with one for the scrapbook, under the heading ‘Look how agile I used to be’ for the grand kids. End of half. A first half summary? Bright and breezy with dark spells looming. A game with hints of Kasparov vs Deep Blue (and white) ’96 that ultimately ended in a most predictable outcome with a side devoid of its main pieces.

After the break   

Lukaku roams offside again. Very frustrating the lad. Lot to learn but a talent no doubt. Ball control and awareness need to be highlighted in training.

Red card! Oh dear. Fifty shades of Popov. He decides to secrete bodily fluid in the direction of Walker. Flashback to the 80’s/early 90’s no not Rudi Voller but Rentaghost, come on ref he only sneezed. He disappears as if by saliva magic. Ludicrous behaviour.

The game inevitably becomes one sided and Tottenham press for the advantage. Ridgewell comes on for Lukaku and we try to contain. The impressive Holtby continues to put himself about.

Goal 68 mins. Morrison allows Bale to skip past and Olsson ducks Bale’s drive which beats Foster from 20 odd yards. Not good defending from the Baggies.

And that was that unfortunately. You have to draw comparisons from the West Brom side under Roy vs the Vile, compared to today when we tried to contain but just didn’t have enough to threaten when we were disadvantaged. The spirit of the side that projected us to that victory is definitely gone and my reference to Kasparov underlines the inevitability of the result.

What is noticeable is how the standard of football has slipped and we have resorted more to a Stoke mannerism. An alarming trend. We have definitely missed our central midfield kingpins Mulumbu and Jacob and our ability to link play via Gera and our width from the stronghold in central midfield.

I understand we were about to sell JT and El G has been loaned out. PO is an abbreviation for something which is well past its sell by date and being phased out by electronic means. WHAT ARE WE DOING?  

 A lot of Baggies fan posts (on social media) are currently aimed at those that come out of the woodwork and moan about the club. True there are those that haven’t a clue and have not been through the dark periods of the 80s & 90s etc. etc. and are JP’s idea of the ‘Brave New Albion Fan’. But there are those that only choose to voice opinion when things are going wrong. The intelligent breed of Baggies fans, which exist in abundance.

We are so very grateful that we are not slugging it out with the Walsalls and Pompeys, Blues, Dingles, Sheff Us Leeds etc/ etc. But we need to move on. We look likely to have an unprecedented fourth season in the Prem, so let’s make it count. No one expects European football. No one expects a cup. But for Christ’s sake, let’s not slip into a coma, which is the inevitable outcome of where we are heading now. I know the Lord is my Shepherd and JP will listen. Praise be believers.

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