Harty on the Albion and the England cricket team

Albion defender Joe Bennett. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

Albion defender Joe Bennett. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

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WHILE any Albion defeat is always an irritation and without wishing to tempt fate, a look at the bottom of the Championship with ten games to go indicates that the Albion are not that far from ensuring safety.

With Blackpool already doomed, the Albion have a nine-point cushion over both Wigan and Millwall and a superior goal difference.

Avoiding defeat against both these sides in the next few weeks will be enough to make sure the Albion will still be in the Championship next season.

To all intents and purposes, the Albion have got away with it. They have been lucky that this season there have been three sides who have effectively pressed the self-destruct button and, come May 2, if not before, they will pay the ultimate price.

But it could have been all so different, given the appointment of Sami Hyypia last summer.

Supporters have been debating online this week about who is the worst Albion manager of recent times.

The likes of Jimmy Case, Jeff Wood, Martin Hinshelwood and even the second coming of Micky Adams have been bandied around.

But, for me, it’s an open and shut case. I cannot believe that Hyypia was appointed solely by Tony Bloom, so whoever was responsible for “advising” the Albion chairman to bring the Finn in could have caused untold long-lasting damage at the club.

Forget all the spin about FFP, and being Premier League ready, with ‘one club, one ambition’. If Hyypia hadn’t done the decent thing and fallen on his sword, who knows how long the powers-that-be would have allowed the farce to continue, and relegation would have been a certainty.

But, even more galling for me and I’d imagine thousands of other Albion fans, is looking at the top of the table.

It’s possibly the most exciting Championship run-in for years, and the Albion could and should have been there. Gus Poyet’s team would have been up and challenging, if not leading the pack.

Glass ceilings aside, since Poyet’s departure, the club has gone in reverse. The long-suffering fans have put up with some bizarre goings-on at the club, while the former boss and his management team, I believe, had to endure a smear campaign.

Next season is the year the club will, hopefully, pay its supporters back, otherwise the five-year renewal figures might be as dismal as some of the performances.

n After England’s dismal showing in the Cricket World Cup, former Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan made a very good point regarding the future of coach Peter Moores.

Vaughan rightly points out that, while you cannot question Moores’s coaching credentials, when a player gets to international level, does he really require a sustained level of coaching?

Is it more about man management and motivation?

Therefore, as Vaughan points out, would it not be better for Moores, and English cricket in general, for him to be employed coaching our best youngsters between the ages of 15 to 21?

Then again, Vaughan has made no secret of the fact he still thinks there’s a place for KP in the England set-up, so he’s not right all of the time!