Another disappointing afternoon for the ‘Baggies’ especially after taking a first half lead, albeit against the general run of play, but I think they succumbed to probably the best side seen at The Hawthorns so far this season, and a game that promised something for Albion right up to the last kick.
Following the game, I was quite enthralled to listen to the assessments of both Des Lyttle and Phil Gilchrist on the game as they spoke to the corporate guests in the various suites, and after his ‘stint’ it was marvellous to catch up with Phil, who I make no secret, hold in the same regard, as far as centre backs go, as Stan Jones John Talbut and John Wile, all players I watched with tremendous admiration, and was privileged to ask Phil to ‘refresh’ his thoughts on a disappointing afternoon.
“Yes, it was disappointing. In my opinion we didn’t start well enough and we were lucky to go in one nil up at half time. It was a good goal, a good corner, good finish, but we rode our luck with Leicester in the first half, in the second half, Leicester came out actually and took the game to us, instead of us taking the game to them, when we were one nil up! They got two ‘carbon copy’ like goals because we sat far too deep in our box. Both Leicester wingers got in behind us, slotted away, and then obviously Vardy scored a very good goal, you have to say the third one was a good goal with some very good play. Yes from a defensive point of view you should always be able to stop it, but it was good play, a good finish. Then a three one down, James Morrison came on and made a big difference I thought. He just put a bit of a spark and a bit of endeavour into it for Albion. Then we got the penalty. Was it a penalty? well it was given, I thought it was a bit soft really, but we pull it back to three two, and in the last ten fifteen minutes we took the game to Leicester. For me, I would have liked to have seen them do it earlier on in the game and take a chance. True it’s easy enough to take that chance when you are three one down, rather than doing it when you are one nil up. I’m not saying you have to leave the back door open, but for me you can make a bit more of an effort going forward, but unfortunately Albion paid the price for it and couldn’t snatch another one at the end.”
“You mentioned earlier on in the suites Phil, that we were lucky not to go behind early in the first half, and I think I’m not speaking out of place when I say that we had one or two early scares didn’t we, and Vardy was going to be a problem.”
“Yes, Vardy should have scored early doors, Myhill made a great save onto the post and it didn’t go in. So yes, I think Albion got away with it first half. The second half, and we were talking about this earlier on, Albion didn’t have ‘out and out’ full backs on the field today, so you have just two main defenders on the field, and it’s very difficult to defend in the Premier League with only two main defenders on the park. It’s going to be hard work. I think Tony Pulis has got to come up with a solution, either bring players in, use players that are used to defending in those positions, to give them that bit of stability, so then you can actually push more players forward. It may be, that at the moment he doesn’t feel comfortable enough at the back for those players to push forward. If that’s the case then he has got a bit of a problem, because you are stopping doing one thing, because you are worried about something else.”
“I was also listening with great interest to what you were saying the suites Phil, and listen I know you said that as a former player do not like or indeed want to criticise current players, and I both understand and respect that, but you were also quick to express words like desire, passion and attitude, which you felt you didn’t see today in some players, not all by any means, out there today and you put forward an example of your former manager Gary Megson, who lets be fair has come in for a lot of negativity, both in his time at Albion and since.”
“Gary Megson will have his critics and don’t get me wrong, in the dressing room, I was never one that was not prepared to say what I thought, and obviously I wouldn’t deny we had one or two words with each other (haha), but to me it was all for the benefit, or what I thought was the benefit of the team. Obviously we had different opinions and see different things, but I will still say that he was one of the best managers of one of the most successful times of my career. He knew what he wanted of me and knew how to get the best out of me, and if treating me the way he did got the best out of me, then it worked. You can speak to most of the players in that team, and don’t think in that promotion winning side you could say that there was one player who didn’t try their absolute socks off, and I can’t think of one that didn’t, and that was down to the manager demanding that would happen and he wouldn’t accept anything else. Having said that I accept that the game is now different, the players are different, they earn a vast amount of money, and I feel that nowadays there isn’t maybe quite the respect that there was when we were playing, and if that is the case, then for me it is a sad indictment on football that players can’t give that kind of commitment.”
“Final question Phil. Are Albion staying up this season?”
“I think yes, Albion will. I think the good thing this year, when you look at the table, is that there are clubs that are struggling more than we are, so there are clubs that are going to struggle and you know they are going to be around there. The problem that Albion will have, is that they have got to win every third or fourth game that will keep them up, and they are capable of doing that. For me though, this club has got to get to the stage where they have got to be aiming to try to get in the top six or top eight, not, continually thinking, are we going to avoid relegation. Everything else at this club has progressed and the performance was disappointing to see today. I thought they had progressed further than they have. The players and calibre of players that they have got in that squad, for me, some of them are a lot better than they used to have. Unfortunately the performance that they put in today wasn’t necessarily as good as the players that were in there. I think that is the best way of putting it, the players that were out there, should have played better than they did today.”
Phil Gilchrist-Laurie Rampling-October 2015.