While the appointment of Darren Moore was welcomed by Baggies fans, and he did “stop the rot” by winning a point against Swansea last weekend, it doesn’t change too much in that the Baggies are still dead certs to go down, and the run in doesn’t look particularly easy.
Last week’s game was the last of the run of fixtures that we were all looking at to save Albion’s season. From the beginning of February, the Baggies had a run of nine matches of which eight, the exception being the trip to Chelsea, could be considered winnable. Somewhere between 14 and 18 points would have put Albion well on the road to survival but Saturday’s point against the Swans was the only one we got in that whole period. The remaining fixtures are all looking much trickier with the Baggies’ only home games against the teams lying third and fourth in the table, and trips to Newcastle and Palace follow this weekend’s visit to Old Trafford.
Of course, one shouldn’t forget that the point Albion earned at the Theatre of Dreams in 2005 in the penultimate game of the Great Escape season proved crucial, but such a result seems way beyond the current Baggies team, and realistically they need to win every game to have any slim hope of survival. United, meanwhile, are on a run of six consecutive league victories culminating in that remarkable comeback at the Etihad last weekend.
As Big Dave prepares his team for Old Trafford, there have been further personnel changes at the Hawthorns this week. Nick Hammond, the principle mover behind the appointment of Pardew, Has left the club and has effectively been replaced, albeit in a “consultant” role, by Giuliano Terraneo. The Italian, relatively unknown in England, has been immediately nick-named “Dolmio Man” by Baggies fans due to his likeness to the cartoon character from the TV commercials. He was a goalkeeper for Monza, Torino, AC Milan and Lazio amongst other Italian clubs, and has held technical consultant roles at Monza, Lazio, Internazionale and Fenerbahçe in recent years.
It’s certainly a surprise appointment and has seemingly resulted in another new name to be linked to the head coach position. With the bookies having previously installed Mick McCarthy as favourite, a name that certainly sent a shiver down my spine, Terraneo’s arrival has seen Dutch footballing legend, Patrick Kluivert, take over as the man most likely to get the job. Kluivert scored 40 goals for the Netherlands in a career that included spells at Ajax, AC Milan, Barcelona and Newcastle United, and has held a number of coaching roles, the longest being as assistant to Louis van Gaal for the Dutch national team that made the final of the World Cup in 2014. Most recently, he was Director of Football at Paris Saint-Germain.
While Kluivert’s playing career cannot be questioned, the only senior head coach position he has held was for the Curaçao national team in 2015 and 2016. From an experience point of view, he doesn’t stand up to the fans’ favourites for the job like Dean Smith, Derek McInnes and Michael Appleton, and such an appointment would strike alarming parallels with Birmingham City’s appointment of Gianfranco Zola, albeit that Albion don’t have a successful head coach already in position as Blues did in Gary Rowatt.
Kluivert would certainly be in the “brave” category of appointments, while McCarthy would be a disaster and I can’t really understand why his price is so short. Whatever the outcome, however, it certainly promises to be an interesting summer at the Hawthorns.
Turning back to this weekend, Darren Moore should be able to call on the services of both Nacer Chadli and Sam Field , while Jonny Evans remains doubtful having picked up a knee injury in training ahead of the Swansea match. Daniel Sturridge is back in full training but won’t be ready for Sunday.
José Mourinho has pretty much a fully fit squad with only back up ‘keeper, Sergio Romero, likely to be unavailable.
It seems remarkable that Albion have lost just once in their last four visits to Old Trafford, a venue at which they hadn’t won since that match in 1978 until Saido Berahino announced himself with the winner in September 2013. Albion won on their next visit thanks to Jonas Olsson’s winner, and also earned a 0-0 draw last season. United won the game in between 2-0 in November 2015.
Of Albion’s 14 wins away to Manchester United, eight of them were before the Second World War including their record win at Old Trafford in January 1939 when second division Albion ran out 5-1 winners over first division United in an FA Cup third round replay after a 0-0 draw at the Hawthorns. The legendary Ginger Richardson was on the scoresheet, towards the end of his Albion career, with Harry Jones (2), Ike Clarke and Doug Witcomb scoring the other goals. Atkinson’s 1978 legends are the only other Baggies side to have scored five at Old Trafford, with Albion’s record league win at the stadium coming in 1958 when a Ronnie Allen brace, a Derek Kevan strike and an Ian Greaves own goal saw United defeated 4-0 on their own patch. That was, of course, a post-Munich United team although they had defeated Albion in an FA Cup quarter-final replay on the same ground just three days before.
The Red Devils’ record win over Albion came in April 1970 when two of the Holy Trinity were on the scoresheet as the hosts ran out 7-0 winners. Bobby Charlton, John Fitzpatrick and Alan Gowling all scored twice with George Best netting the other goal – Denis Law was out injured! That was in the midst of a run of more than half a century from 1959 to 2013 when the Three Degrees-inspired team were the only Albion side to taste victory at Old Trafford.
I can’t see anything other than a home win.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
16 Dec 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Barry)
Manchester United 2 (Lukaku, Lingard)
Last meeting at Manchester United
1 Apr 2017 – Premier League
Manchester United 0
West Brom 0
6 Mar 2016 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Rondón)
Manchester United 0
Last win at Manchester United
2 May 2015 – Premier League
Manchester United 0
West Brom 1 (Olsson)
Albion’s Record against Manchester United
|Premier League Record|