West Bromwich Albion have been playing some reasonably attractive football this season, but, to paraphrase The Streets, my God, don’t they just know it? ITV ran something of a eulogy to them on “Championship Goals” this morning, in which they came across as a deeply unlovable bunch, from the supporters interviewed before their match against Cardiff City yesterday afternoon (one of whom had, “Boing Boing Baggies” tattooed across his thick neck, the other of whom said – without a trace of irony – “We’re the Arsenal of the Championship”. ITV then showed the highlights of their match, carefully adjusting their voice-over to put a spin on what was going on on-screen. Cardiff supporters can feel somewhat short-changed by the fact that they were reduced to bit-part players in one of their best away performances of the season, whilst the fact that it looked like a deflected shot and an own goal that “earned” Albion a point after Cardiff had deservedly gone 3-1 up was airbrushed out because it didn’t fit with the script. I’ve always had a thinly veiled dislike of West Bromwich Albion, and this didn’t help my viewpoint.
Elsewhere, the big matches of the day were a pair of Yorkshire derbies. Sheffield Wednesday beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Hillsborough in the lunchtime match yesterday, in an almost embarrassingly one-sided match. Wednesday took a first half lead and battered away at the United defence. The visitors rallied briefly at the start of the second half, before a Marcus Tudgay volley doubled their lead and killed the game stone dead. Good old Bryan Robson, eh? He’s surely headed for the sack (United, having been relegated from the Premier League on the last day of last season, currently sit in fourteenth place in the Championship, justifying, in my eyes at least, their relegation last season), but we can at least thank him for turning them into one of this season’s more entertaining soap operas. The other Yorkshire derby came at Elland Road, where Leeds United played Doncaster Rovers in the league for the first time in fifty-two years. Brian Stock’s free-kick was enough to settle matters, in a result that seriously dents Leeds’ automatic promotion chances (they’re three points off second placed Carlisle United, but Carlisle have two games in hand on them). With recent defeats at Oldham and Swansea, it’s tempting to think that the wheels are coming off the Leeds promotion bandwagon, but they’re out of administration and have been spending predictably heavily in the January transfer window. Still, the lottery of the play-offs could yet condemn them to a second successive season League One.
Things could yet get worse for Leeds United, if rumours doing the rounds that Kevin Keegan is eyeing up Dennis Wise to be his assistant at Newcastle United prove to be correct. On current showing, Keegan is going to be needing all the help that he can get, as Newcastle played out a dreadful 0-0 draw against Bolton Wanderers at St James Park last night. The highlight of the match came about fifteen minutes into the second half, when the TV cameras picked up and honed in upon a man wearing a black and white crown, along with the grumpiest facial expression I think I’ve ever seen. Keegan’s going to need more than the force of his personality if he’s going to turn this bunch into anything any good.