When Matt met Jonny … MFW’s Matt Howman chats to a WBA counterpart to mull over what *might* unfold tomorrow…
After a gutsy comeback against a spirited Birmingham, City face West Bromwich Albion tomorrow with both teams looking to achieve their first win of the season.
A draw was probably a fair result at St. Andrews given the way the game panned out however amongst the 2,000 plus excellent travelling supporters there was a few boos already beginning to surface, frustrated at the Farke possession football.
Pressure will be on Daniel Farke to maintain a good win ratio because he’s now in his second full season as head coach and fans will want to start seeing progress.
West Brom come into the game off the back of a loss and draw, so new head coach Darren Moore will be under even more scrutiny than his managerial counterpart to deliver a result, which should make for a good and even contest
This week, I met up (sort of) with West Bromwich Albion blogger Jonn Walker to talk through the game and get the opposition thoughts ahead of tomorrow:
Hi Jonn, nice to meet you and welcome to MFW – tell us a few words about yourself, what got you into country music and also how you came to support the Baggies?
Jonn: Hi Matt, nice to meet you too, thank you! I’m a Shropshire-based musician and I’ve been in the music scene for the past 18 years or so. I’ve played in a number of rock bands and toured the UK a few times, which has been immense fun! Last December, I decided to go solo and the songs I started writing naturally took me down the country route.
When I was about ten, my dad took me to see Albion play. He told me about how he used to go up when he was a kid, and as soon as we got there I just felt happy and I also loved the kit. My entire family originates from the West Brom area, so I was used to going over to visit grandparents and relatives. So since 1994 I’ve been going up to The Hawthorns!
Our local radio often features a fan on the post-match phone-in with a guitar and some original lyrics on Norwich City, have you ever written a song about West Brom and did it ever make it big in the local pub?
Jonn: You know, I’ve thought a few times about writing a West Brom song, but I haven’t done so as yet. Maybe one day I will. If I do write a song about them, it will likely have an element of humour to it. I feel that serious football songs sound a little cheesy!
Staying with your love of music if you could pick any band or artist to do a 15-minute performance for half-time at the Hawthorns who would it be and why?
Jonn: Jimmy Eat World, no question about it! I just love their music and they seem like super cool guys. Their live show is amazing and I think the performance would sound awesome echoing around the stadium to 25,000 people! We could play a country version of “The Middle” and then rock out to get the fans ready for the second half!
And to the football… Relegated last year after a short resurgence under Darren Moore, is he the right man for the job?
Jonn: Right now, it’s very hard to say. I, like everyone else at the club, love the man. He’s so genuine and respectful. At the tail end of last season, every fan expected the inevitable. But then when Darren came in, he made everyone fall in love with the club again. I remember driving to a show the afternoon we played Spurs – the game we HAD to win.
When we scored right at the death, tears were streaming down my face. It probably wasn’t safe to be driving! But he made us all believe again. The summer was a little slow, with regards transfers. And so far in the two opening games, he has appeared to be a little naïve with the lack of subs and the way we’ve set up. But this is his first appointment and I’m sure by December we’ll be there or thereabouts. So with time, I’m going to say yes he’s the right man.
You’ve also lost Rondon and brought in Gayle who always causes Norwich trouble when he’s in the opposition line-up – are you happy overall with the transfer dealings?
Jonn: Not really. Letting Gareth McAuley and Claudio Yacob go without having replacements lined up was ridiculous. They could have a done a good job in the Championship. To be honest, for about five years now the fans have been crying out for wholesale change. This summer it has happened, to an extent.
Earlier in the year, the executives were removed, management changed and some of the dead wood has moved on. So it’s nice to have a fresh start, but we needed a number of new assets to make the squad strong enough to push for promotion and, so far, we’ve only seen about half of what I think we need. It’s nice to have Gayle on board, but we still need another striker. Our midfield is crying out for pace and we need at least one more solid defender. We’re weak all over the pitch in reality.
It’s notoriously difficult to achieve promotion in the season following relegation, do you think you can do it? If not where do you think you’ll finish?
Jonn: I’d like to think we will turn this slow start around and bounce right back. If we can make a few more solid signings then I think we’re in with a good chance. But if we get stuck with the current squad, then I think playoffs is the best we can hope for. We simply don’t have the depth of squad. A couple of injuries to key players and we’re in massive trouble. Certain individual players like Matt Phillips and Harvey Barnes have showed their quality, but we can’t afford to carry players.
Norwich started slowly out of the blocks against Birmingham albeit with an exciting finish and after two games you’re yet to pick up a win, how do you see the game panning out?
Jonn: The Blues/Norwich game sounded like a cracker! I hope the game on Saturday is as exciting! I have a feeling that Norwich will be quick off the blocks tomorrow, being the home team. I keep going back and forth about how we will perform. Part of me feels as though we will struggle – lack of pace and creativity, but part of me feels that we may have woken up a bit after the first two games. I think it will be the odd goal that wins it, but I daren’t say to whom!
A couple of hypotheticals to finish – is there any Norwich players you’d snap up in an instant?
Jonn: I’ve always quite liked Tim Krul. A decent shot stopper and generally fairly reliable. Another player I’d nab given the chance is Jordan Rhodes. He can stick a few away and he has Championship experience. I think he’d fit in well at West Brom.
If you could pick any West Brom player from the past five years to help your club get back up to the Premier League who would it be and why?
Jonn: A player who is familiar to you guys! Graham Dorrans. He joined Norwich from Albion and I’ve always felt sad that he left. He has skill, he can pick a pass, has a fantastic shot and he possesses that bit of aggression that drives a quality player. Having him in our midfield this season would solve all our problems!
Thanks Jonn, think that’s all from me!
Jonn: Cheers! It’s been a great chat, really enjoyed it thanks! And good luck for the rest of the season (after Saturday, of course! Lol).
Cheers to Matt and Jonn, great stuff
Penney predicts: The Baggies will be smarting after that Bolton loss and hopefully, they will be nervous as well. Let’s go for them. Dwight Gayle bothers me but I’m going 2-1 City.
Andy assumes: Expect City to be more attacking at home and in line with the 4-1-4-1 pre-season formation (otherwise why spend so much time practising it?). Is WBA the right team to unleash upon? Hopefully so. I’m going for a commanding 3-0 City victory.
Gaz (G) guesses: Given that West Brom have been already given the Championship ‘treatment’ early doors (cheers Bolton), the complacency/sense of entitlement I had banked on may be absent. A tricky one, so I’m going for a 1-1 draw.
Cookie concludes: Despite home advantage, I reckon Farke wouldn’t be disappointed with a point against one of the pre-season favourites. Expect a cautious and cagey approach from both sides with few chances and Dwight Gayle to score in injury time in a 1-1 draw.
Stew suspects: City to take heart from Birmingham; West Brom still adjusting. 2-1 City.
The oppo’s opinion (Jonn): I’m going to lean 2-1 to Albion. I think it will be a tight game and we’re not really scoring goals. But I think Darren will get it right this week, with Gayle popping up with a goal.
So, calling all ‘panel-beaters’.
If you fancy showing us up for the clueless bunch we are, simply leave your score predictions in the comments below.