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2011/12 Season review: Feb to May

26 Jun 2012 14:31:11

2011/12 Season review: Feb to May

A week after the fixtures were released, Tom Harper looks back on a memorable few months for Albion fans.

A week after the fixtures were released, Tom Harper looks back on a memorable few months for Albion fans. 

February

While our home form was continuing to be of real concern, we were still picking up a series of good results away from home. This continued at Fulham four days later, when a late equaliser from Somen Tchoyi saw us pick up a valuable point at Craven Cottage.

However, there was an air of inevitability about our 2-1 defeat at home to Swansea City in our next game. A second-half goal from Fortune was not enough to stop yet another home defeat, with this putting increased pressure on our trip to Molineux for the Black Country Derby in just eight days time. 

As it turned out, our game at Wolves was undoubtedly a turning point in our season. In one of the most incredible games I have ever attended, we picked up a 5-1 win thanks to a hatrick from Odemwingie and goals from Olsson and new signing Keith Andrews. If anything, the score-line flattered Wolves, as we could quite easily have had double figures after a dominant display. An incredible result for Albion was completed by Wolves manager Mick McCarthy being sacked the next day.

An international break followed, but we seemed to have lost none of our confidence and momentum as we beat Sunderland 4-0 at The Hawthorns in our next game thanks to two goals from Odemwingie and a goal apiece from Morrison and Andrews. We were playing our best football of the season by a considerable distance and already looked as though we had pulled clear of the relegation scrap.

March

This belief was enhanced a week later when we faced Chelsea at The Hawthorns, as a McAuley goal secured a 1-0 win and lost Andre Villas-Boas his job. 

Unfortunately, our good run could not continue a week later at Old Trafford as we were comfortably beaten 2-0 by a very strong Manchester United side.

This defeat was followed by a trip to Wigan Athletic, a game which we drew 1-1 in front of nearly 5,000 travelling Albion fans thanks to the club running free coaches to what is already one of the more popular away games. Almost inevitable, former Wigan player Scharner got our equaliser in the second half, but we were very grateful to Ben Foster for a series of fine saves to prevent us losing the game.

We were not so lucky the following week though, as a Newcastle United side who were the best visiting team at The Hawthorns by some distance last season comfortably beat us 3-1 after being 3-0 up at half-time. A goal early in the second half from Long provided us with brief hope that we could come back from 3-0 down as we did at St James' Park the previous season, but we were outclassed all over the pitch and the result was undoubtedly a fair reflection of Newcastle's dominance.

The month finished with another comfortable defeat against a side who were simply too good for us on the day, as we went down 2-0 at Everton to lose against them for the third time in one season. 

April

At this stage, we knew that one win from our remaining seven games would almost definitely be enough to secure our safety, so there was no panic despite the recent below-par performances.

We got the win we needed to ease any nerves in our first match of the month, as goals from Fortune, Liam Ridgewell and a Martin Olsson own goal helped us to a comfortable 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at The Hawthorns.

This took the pressure off our next game, which was a trip to the Etihad to face title-chasing Manchester City. With several players missing through injury, we were unsurprisingly beaten 4-0 and never really looked like scoring ourselves.

With Hodgson taking a bit of a gamble with a slightly weakened team selection against Manchester City, it put a bit of pressure on our next game at home to QPR. Thankfully, a goal of the season contender from Dorrans saw us pick up a 1-0 win and virtually ensure our safety for another season.

If there was any doubt over whether we would be playing Premier League football next season before our trip to Anfield to face Liverpool, they were well and truly eradicated afterwards as a goal from Odemwingie with just under 20 minutes remaining saw us pick up our first victory at Anfield for exactly 45 years. The result was also significant for Hodgson, who had been sacked by them just over 15 months previously, but now had a better record than Kenny Dalglish in meetings between Liverpool and Albion since his departure.

Our next match saw us host Aston Villa in a local derby at The Hawthorns. In a game of few chances, a draw was probably the right result and not many supporters of either team would have been too disappointed after the game finished 0-0.

However, focus was soon taken away from this game as the next day it was revealed that Hodgson had been the subject of an approach from the Football Association about the vacant England manager's job. Understandably, Hodgson wanted the opportunity to talk to the FA about taking the job and just two days later, he was unveiled as the new England manager. 

As part of an agreement between Albion and the FA though, Hodgson was able to remain in charge of the club for the final two matches of the season, giving Albion fans the chance to give him the send-off he deserved for how much he has improved our club during his relatively short time in charge. 

May

The send-off for Hodgson did not appear to be going according to plan on the pitch at Bolton Wanderers, however, as we found ourselves 2-0 down with less than 20 minutes remaining. Despite this, late goals from Brunt and Morrison ensured the game finished 2-2 and gave the over 4,000 travelling Albion fans, many of whom were wearing England shirts or flags, something to cheer on the journey home.

Our final game of the season, and Hodgson's final game in charge of the club, saw us suffer an unfortunate 3-2 loss at home to Arsenal. At least two of Arsenal's goals came about due to errors from second-choice goalkeeper Marton Fulop, meaning that well-taken goals from Long and Dorrans were not enough to help us pick up at least a point in our final match of the season.

Overall, Albion fans can have very few complaints about how the season panned out. Finishing 10th in what is arguably the best league in the world is an excellent achievement, especially when you consider there were several games, particularly at The Hawthorns, where we were nowhere near our best and dropped points as a result.

The impressive performances of Ben Foster helped him pick up both the supporters and players Player of the Year award, with James Morrison receiving the Goal of the Season accolade for his stunning volley at Blackburn Rovers in December. 

Only time will tell whether new head coach Steve Clarke can build on the excellent work done by Roy Hodgson in his 15 months at the helm, but there is no doubt that Albion fans are currently enjoying seeing the club playing their best football for at least 30 years so we have to make the most of it!

Boing Boing!

 


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