We’ve spoken to a lifelong West Bromwich Albion fan before the big Play-Off first leg against Aston Villa on Saturday to get the low down on who they’re fearing, what they’re expecting and more.
As the first leg of the Play-Off Semi-Finals against local rivals West Bromwich Albion looms, we’ve spoken to West Bromwich Albion fan @taga_bird33 on how the two sides will match up across both of the legs, who both sides should be fearing and more.
Did you expect both sides to be in or around the Play-Offs at the start of the season?
Prior to Darren Moore coming in with six games before the end of the Premier League season, I genuinely thought that we might struggle in the Championship.
But Darren gave the club an identity again, and our signings in the summer – I was then quietly confident of the Play-Offs at least.
For Villa, likewise. Some of the signings you made were the difference between me thinking that you would, or would not make it.
What should Aston Villa fear the most about this Baggies side? And in retrospect, what do you think West Brom will be fearing about Villa?
There are two main reasons that Aston Villa should fear West Bromwich Albion.
The first is obviously Dwight Gayle – the man is a born goal scorer. The second, is our quality from set pieces, we seem to have kept that in our locker since the days of Pulis.
The Aston Villa threat to us is the pace in your side. We’ve got an incredibly slow midfield and it’s been our downfall at times this season.
How disappointed were you to miss out on the automatic places?
Like I stated earlier, I would have taken Play-Offs when relegation seemed certain last season.
There were points before Christmas that I thought that the automatics were ours, but we had a key loss in January in Harvey Barnes being recalled, and I personally think that ended our hopes of going up automatically.
Usually relegated sides struggle to attempt to return in their first season – why do you think West Bromwich Albion have fared relatively well this season?
The main reason we’ve been there or there abouts is that we kept the vast majority of the team that came down with us.
I believe the side we have is of Premier League standard, albeit the bottom half.
I think we could have done better, but managerial decisions have killed us both last season and this season.
Which Baggies player do you think poses the biggest threat to Aston Villa?
I think it goes without saying who our biggest threat is, and that’s Dwight Gayle. He can pop up with a goal from out of nowhere at times.
If you could sign one current Aston Villa player, who would it be?
I think it would have to be John McGinn.
He is the sort of player that our side is crying out for, a pacey, strong play-maker with a decent shot on him.
This season, Aston Villa have failed to beat West Bromwich Albion – albeit with one result tainted by a handball goal – do you think this makes a different or are the Play-Offs a different ball game?
Those games came at times when we were playing well, and Villa not so much.
The tables have turned now and it is you that has the form. We’ve lost ours.
On form, I’d say you have the upper hand – but the Play-Offs are a different story.
I think it is going to come down to whoever can handle the pressure the most, wins the game.
What is your predicted score for the leg at Villa Park, and the return at the Hawthorns?
With the way we are playing, we’ll most likely concede in both games – but we seem to play better when we go a goal behind.
I’d say a 1-1 draw at VIlla Park – and then the leg at the Hawthorns will be open and full of goals.
I’ll say 3-2 to us.