Preview: West Brom vs Crystal Palace (27/02/2016)

Written by Jack Pierce
Yannick Bolasie returns to Palace side
Photo: Michael Hulf

I can't be certain but I think West Brom fans are starting to hate Tony Pulis as much as we do... and he hasn't even left them in the lurch two nights before a new season begins.

The man is talented.

Saturday's defeat at Reading in the FA Cup is probably the beginning of the end for Pulis' time at The Hawthorns. His predictable, slow paced team got turned over by a side a division below having gone ahead and its a result that's been coming.

Even in games that WBA have come out the victor in recent weeks, they've been battered. I know it's the result that matters but would many Albion fans have left Goodison Park, following their side's 1-0 win, looking forward to their next game?

Good fortune and some excellent last ditch defending kept out an Everton team who had over 30 shots during the 90 minutes. Credit to Albion for the result but it was ever that bad when he was in charge of our lot, was it?

I won't apologise for my red and blue tinted view of things but I remember posing oppositions a threat on the break and playing some quite nice stuff; Pulis' Albion side appears toothless and god awful on the eye.

Only last night did I catch some highlights of Crystanbul. If the current WBA side went 3-0 to that Liverpool side, Pulis would turn to his bench and add another centre half to the six already on the pitch.

Pulis has a pool of decent Premier League centre halves to turn to; Jonas Olsson, Gareth MacAuley, the thug that is Craig Dawson, James Chester and Jonny Evans can all 'do a job' in the top flight and have proven that over the last few seasons. However, the baseball cap connoisseur's obsession of fitting as many into his starting line up is beginning to become laughable.

Deploying Jonny Evans as a defensive midfielder was my favourite instance of that so far this season. Evans, a title winning centre back while at United should be played at centre half. The fact that Pulis seems to think he can see something that Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't probably says enough about the man's ego.

Already making noises about moving on this summer, through his friend and Telegraph jouno, John Percy, in an attempt to make it appear that it'll be his decision to go rather than his employer asking him to leave, Pulis' time at The Hawthorns is almost certainly coming to an end and with that, might come the gleam off Pulis' name. The dissatisfaction of Albion fans with Pulis' management and style of play might put off future employers.

That said, Pulis is likely to keep The Baggies in the top flight and earn them a bounty of over £200m this summer. While fans might not be happy, Jeremy Peace, who is currently trying to sell the club, will be perfectly satisfied. WBA in the Premier League is a far more attractive proposition to potential buyers than WBA in The Championship.

This summer could prove pivotal in the club’s future. A possible change of manager and if the right investors approach Peace, the club could have new owners too. The club needs to have some positivity injected somewhere within otherwise they risk becoming another Villa or Sunderland with mere survival becoming the sole objective at the start of every season.

It really is amazing what moods and atmospheres in and around a club does for their image among fans and in the press. Palace are on the same points as West Brom, have conceded the same amount of goals and scored only three goals more than Pulis’ side. Regardless of those stats, Palace fans are much happier than West Brom fans at the moment and even if Albion finish this season above our lot, I dare say that won’t change moods in either camps.

Saturday’s is an important game for both sides.

Can Palace build upon the cracking cup win of last weekend?

Will West Brom be any better than the turgid, awfulness they displayed last weekend?

Will Chris Brunt be wearing one of those fashionable face masks that have become all the rage in the Premier League after being hit in the chops by a coin thrown by one of Albion’s own supporters?

Those travelling up or making the most of Sky’s Saturday night coverage will find out soon enough.

Would you look at that? A preview piece on West Brom and not a single mention of Saido Berahino.

Well, nearly.