“The visit of the Red Devils from Old Trafford is always a fixture that evokes passions in all fans young and old, and a virtual sell-out audience, despite television coverage, was testament to the attraction that any Manchester United side still holds.
Association Chairman Ray Wilson, was joined by Ken Hodgkisson, Stan Jones, Nicky Cross and Treasurer Norman Westbury, in the Regis Suite, whilst the ‘great’ man himself, was royally entertaining the Corporate punters in the East Stand suites, along with Darryl Burgess and Manchester United legend Jimmy Greenhoff. Darren Moore ‘filled in’ for current skipper Darren Fletcher, and it’s fair to say is always good value, and of course caught up with Cyrille and Darryl at the end of the afternoon.”
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0 –v- MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Match played at The Hawthorns – Saturday 17 th December 2016
The fixture against the ‘Red Devils’ from Manchester is always a ‘Red letter’ day at the ‘Shrine’ guaranteed a full house, despite television coverage, and evokes passions of the past, and the many titanic battles the two sides have ‘enjoyed’ down through history. Talking about the past, the very man I was delighted to chat to after a disappointing but perhaps not surprising defeat, was a man who has written himself into that ‘Albion-v- Manchester United’ history folklore, with displays of brilliance which at times defy superlatives, that we as supporters, remember and adorned him with.
That man, the one and only Cyrille Regis, who walked through the Hawthorns doors in 1977, and was of course destined to become the new ‘King’ of the Hawthorns. Not surprisingly he used some of those very same superlatives to describe the United performance he had just witnessed.
“We come up against a really class act today” He reflected, “Man United played very, very well. Albion had strong spells in the game, kept the ball quite well, but with most teams It’s about the last third and Zlatan made the difference for me today. Two goals in either half and you can tell he oozes class. He has that experience, he uses his energy levels well and his two goals were the difference, especially his movement for the first goal. Lindguard goes down the right hand side, who also played very well, and then his movement off of McAuley, to head the ball home was excellent.” “Salomon Rondon, after his Swansea heroics, didn’t really get a sniff today did he?” I suggested to Cyrille.
“No, as a striker you are looking for ammunition, you are looking for creativity, and we just didn’t have it today. The business end for any football team is the last third, and of course having that bit of creativity to break down the opposition defence, to find gaps, to have shots at goal. Manchester United had it in abundance and cruised it in the end. You just felt that they had another couple of gears in their locker.”
“Albion had plenty of possession” I suggested, “In front of the United defence, but I suppose the Manchester United players were very content to just let us play there all day long?”
“Exactly, that’s what I’m saying. It’s all about the last third. Can you get behind, can you get shots at goal, I don’t think De Gea had a shot to save did he? He was never under pressure. Rondon had a slight header in the first half, but we just couldn’t put United under pressure. I thought that Carrick was also excellent. I thought his pass percentage was something like ninety five per cent. He ‘bossed’ the game. He was always available. His first touch put him in the position where he had three of four different options. He kept things flowing and you have to say he was very, very good today. I’m sure Mourinho will be saying to himself, ‘I can’t drop this lad’.” “You’ve mention Zlatan. You’ve mentioned Carrick, but Rooney, he’s still a very good player isn’t he?” I put it to the former Albion striker.
“Yeah, definitely. He hit the bar, he perhaps lacks the energy levels that he had when he was a young kid, but that’s to be expected. He is playing wide left which is probably not his position, and as I said lacks those energy levels he had when he was younger, but he is now playing with his head, like Zlatan, playing with his head and playing with his experience.”
“I’ve said this many times, our season is not going to be defined in games against the likes of United and the other top teams is it? I suggested to Cyrille. “No, but I think we are going to be comfortable this year. I quite like the last four or five games. We have played some good football, scored some goals and it’s a bit better on the eye. He (Tony Pulis) has put people like Chadli, Phillips, Brunt and Morrison in the side, we have got a lot of creativity which is good, although if I’m honest, the likes of Chadli, Phillips and Brunt weren’t in the game today. They didn’t really show anything of their current form, but you move on again. It’s about the reaction now, in the next couple of games, which are of course going to be tough. Let’s see if we can get something out of the next two games.”
Cyrille Regis-Laurie Rampling – December 2016