BOLTON PREVIEW – PAUL ROBINSON
In the build up to next Saturdays ‘crunch’ match against ‘the Trotters’ from Bolton, I was able to catch up with former Albion defender, and fans favourite, Paul Robinson. ‘Robbo’ who left the Hawthorns in 2009, and headed off up the M6 to the Reebok, to continue his ‘love affair’ with the Premiership, and has been pretty much a regular in the side since making the move. I first asked him if he was looking forward to his Hawthorns return, the second since he left Albion, and of course even at this early stage of the season, a big game.
“Yes, I’m really looking forward to going back. I had some great years at Albion.”
Robbo continued. “Yes, it’s a massive game, more for us that the Baggies at the moment, to be fair. We have been in a bit of rut lately, but had a great win last Sunday against Stoke, which will gave us a great deal of confidence. Especially going into the game against Albion next week, and hopefully, fingers crossed, it will be an entertaining game for everyone.”
“It’s going to be a difficult game for both sides isn’t it.” I asked the former Albion favourite. “Especially looking at the bottom half of the table. It’s a bit congested down there, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is, there are lot of teams down there at the moment, and as you rightly say Laurie, its getting very congested. But it’s a great league. It’s up and down, and I think that will continue right through ‘till the end of the season. Teams that are at the bottom now, probably won’t be at the bottom in May. It’s going to keep chopping and changing. It’s a shame that both West Brom and Bolton are down there at the moment. That will all change later on in the season, I’m confident of that. Especially, with the quality that both teams possess. West Brom have some quality players, and of course many of them I still keep in touch with, who I played with when I was at Albion, and I think West Brom will be in top half again soon, along with Bolton.”
“There have been some difficult games for Albion recently, with defeats at home to Liverpool and away at Arsenal, but after a very sticky run, Bolton really had a great win at the weekend against tough opponents in Stoke.”
“Yes, as you say, it was it was a great win for us. I know everyone will probably say it was because Stoke were in Europe during the week and they were tired. But make no mistake, Stoke are still a very good team and it was just important for us to get the three points, no matter how we played. But we won it in style, and in the end could have scored more than five. So it was great result for us.”
“What memories do you have of games between Albion and Bolton.” I asked.
“When playing for Albion, I recall them always being very tight games, and they were again last season playing for Bolton. Obviously at Christmas time, when Albion came to Bolton we won the game 2-0, but to be fair it was a close encounter and very tight. I should imagine next week’s game will be exactly the same. A very tactical game, end to end stuff, and a lot of goals, hopefully for Bolton and not West Brom.” (ha ha )… “We shall just have to wait and see.” Robbo added.
“Personally I would take a point now. I know it’s silly to talk about six pointers, but that’s what it could be. Do you agree Robbo.”
“I think a lot of people in the game will go for a draw, with both teams down at the bottom, where they shouldn’t be, grinding it out for a point. Hopefully, as I said, it will be an entertaining game, with end to end stuff and a fair result will be a draw. That will make everyone happy, especially me. Obviously as a Bolton player now I would like the three points. But, I know what tough place the Hawthorns will be to go to. I know what the fans are like and I know what the players are capable of, having played with a few of them. It will be a tough game for us, and as I said, I would take a point now.”
“Bolton seem to be going backwards of late, what has happened? You have certainly had some odd results after such a good start.”
“Really, I look back at last seasons FAC semi-final. It was in every-ones mind and especially the way that we lost the game. But as a team we looked at it, as just one of those days, and it wasn’t meant to be. It’s just as simple as that. But then, not a lot of people remember that the week after we actually beat Arsenal 2-1 at home. They never mention that. They just mention that the FAC semi-final was our downfall. Personally, I think we were going into games and the confidence was missing. Confidence that we could go and get a result. It’s is a massive thing in football, that you have that confidence, and I think that was our downfall. Then it carried on really. We had a great win on the opening day at QPR, but then we played the top seven teams in the first six weeks. It’s been a tough start for us, as it has been for Albion. We have been through a difficult period where we have picked up points, and lost points, but hopefully that win last Sunday against Stoke will give us the platform to kick on now, to be playing at the standards that we should be playing week in and week out.”
“It’s certainly given Roy Hodgson one or two things to think about in the run up to the game hasn’t it?
“Yes definitely. It will give Roy and the lads a lot to think about it. But the Albion players know what we can do as a team. I think Roy appreciates what we can do as a team. He knows that as a top manager, especially with the experience he has had over the years. Roy has managed top quality football teams, and he will know it is not going to be an easy game for him.”
“What about your-self pal. You’ve had a few ups and downs lately. Are you still enjoying it? Still enjoying your football at Bolton?”
“Yes, of course I’m enjoying my football. You’ve got to enjoy it. You have got to make the most of it while you can. Obviously I’m disappointed with the position that we find ourselves in, and in certain games that I have played in, but that’s just me. You know me Laurie, I was like that when I was at West Brom. I always take pride in the way I play, as a player, and it’s been hard for me this year. In certain games, I know that I have not performed like I know I can, but in certain games I have been really pleased with myself. It’s been an up and down season so far, but I’m still enjoying my football. I still keep in touch with some of the Albion lads. I was out with Brunty for a meal with our wives during the week, and it was great to catch up. But I do miss a lot of the people there. It was sad to leave, but I felt I just had to leave, and move on to a fresh challenge. I know things are not going as well as I would like at Bolton at the moment, but that’s football. But you will always look to bounce back, and that’s the way you have look at it. I will always bounce back and keep enjoying my football because that is the most important thing.”
Robbo continued. “You have to make the most of it while you can. It’s great to play at the top level, and throughout my career my aim was to stay at the top level as long as I could. That has always been my main ‘goal’ personally. To play in the Premier League against world class players, and that was the main reason I left Albion. There was nothing else involved. It was just ‘me’, wanting to play against the best players in the world, week in and week out.”
“Another semi-final appearance in the FA cup last year, true the result went against you, but it was another Wembley appearance for you.”
“Yes that’s right. It was nice. Obviously it was a sad day, given the result because I would have liked to have gone one step further. It’s every professional player’s dream to play in a cup final and maybe get a winners medal, but it wasn’t to be. It was a shame really, but it’s behind me now, but hopefully this year we can go that one step further.”
Of Stoke City, Robbo continued, “Everyone knows what tough opponents Stoke can be, but they do have a lot of quality, that not too many people respect them for, which is a bit of a shame really. On that day they were much better than us, it’s as simple as that. We just never turned up and they outplayed us on the day. Some of the comments made about teams such as Stoke, annoys me a little bit, because I remember well, when I was at West Brom when we got promoted. Everyone labelled us as relegation favourites. because of the way we played, and to me it’s just not right. The same with Stoke, they were favourites for relegation when they first came up, but they have proved everyone wrong and in fact have got stronger each year. Its great to see teams doing that because it proves a lot of the ‘so called critics’ wrong. Hopefully as an ex-Albion player, Albion can do the same. They certainly have the players to do it. They have got some great lads there, those I played with and still keep in touch with. It’s great to see Zoltan back there as well. He is still a good friend, and I’ll be looking forward to catching up and seeing him next week. He is a key player, and it’s great to see him back fit. Obviously he has been out recently, but when you have got a player of the quality of Zoltan, it’s a bonus to have him back and raring to go. It’s great news for the ‘Baggies’ and their fans.”
Robbo continued. “I’m really looking forward to coming back to see everyone at the Albion. Its will be great to catch up with everyone including yourself Laurie. I had a great relationship with the fans. I know I got a few boos at the Reebok last season, but I’m not ‘phased’ by that at all. That’s football. I just hope that it is an entertaining game.”
We all hope so as well Robbo, and it will be great to see you again.
Paul Robinson/Laurie Rampling – November 2011
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