SussexBaggie speaks…Wigan and the Geordies
By Site Editor
Updated Wednesday, 21st March 2012
Tom Harper discusses Albion's draw, team selection and Newcastle United
Saturday saw us pick up a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic, in a game which we should have lost quite comfortably.
Like 2,000 other West Bromwich Albion fans, I set off on one of the free coaches generously provided by the club hopeful of continuing our impressive away form this season.
However, the reality could not have been more different. The performance the Albion players put in on Saturday was perhaps even worse than the display at Swansea City earlier in the season, a game which we lost 3-0. If Wigan had been able to take most of the numerous chances which fell their way, it is no exaggeration to say we could have been out of the game inside the first 20 minutes.
The player who played the greatest role in keeping us in the game was Ben Foster, who continued his impressive run of form by making several fine saves to secure what was in the end a very respectable point.
Billy Jones, Gareth McAuley and goal-scorer Paul Scharner also played reasonably well, but the rest of the players were simply not good enough in front of almost 5,000 travelling Baggies fans.
Something which confused a few supporters after this game was the changes Roy Hodgson made to the side, in particular the inclusion of Nicky Shorey at left-back, meaning that Liam Ridgewell moved into the centre to partner McAuley.
Whilst I can see why Hodgson went with the experience of Shorey for what was always going to be a tough game, I had hoped Craig Dawson would be given a chance to impress. The England U21 international has performed very well whenever he has been given a chance in the first team this season, but had to be content with a place on the bench on this occasion.
Following this game, Hodgson has said that he will look to rotate the squad between now and the end of the season. I can see why he may want to do this, but I personally want to see us get as many points as we can and push to finish in the top ten if possible.
Our results this season when we have had a significant number of players missing through injury show that we do not have a good enough squad behind what is a very good first team to pick up results on a regular basis in the Premier League.
With this in mind, I would be slightly disappointed if Hodgson spends what could be his final nine games at the club making wholesale changes to try and establish whether those players who have spent a lot of time on the bench this season are good enough to play regularly at this level.
This weekend sees us take on Newcastle United at The Hawthorns, with the game being put back to a 4pm kick-off on Sunday due to Sky Sports showing an interest in it.
We are playing against one of the surprise packages from this season and a side who could still certainly finish in the top six. However, we have done well against them over the last couple of seasons and our victory at St James’ Park earlier in the season should certainly give the players confidence heading into this match.
It will undoubtedly be a tough game, but hopefully we will play well and pick up a positive result!
Do you think Hodgson should continue experimenting with his squad? Have your say here at WBA-MAD's fans' forum at Baggies Banter.