Ian Hart: Hype can often exceed performance

Action from Albion's clash with Crystal Palace on Tuesday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

The first top flight M23 derby for 36 years unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype, a point gained or two points dropped?

Without wishing to hide behind a familiar cliche but I don’t think we will really know until the Albion’s 38-game campaign is complete.

It was obviously disappointing but how much worse would it have been had Maty Ryan not been on top form between the sticks for the Albion, his double save from Benteke and Zaha early on a pivotal moment over the 90 minutes. Putting the fierce rivalry aside, of the Albion’s previous 13 Premier League opponents, I’ve seen at least three teams who Palace can clearly finish above.

For all his numerous detractors, Roy Hodgson does know what he’s doing and I firmly believe that he will get Palace out of trouble, in the same way from what I’ve seen from the Albion, Chris Hughton will also steer his side to Premier League survival.

December will be a key month for the Albion, the likes of Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea are effectively matches we should expect nothing from, so therefore the home games with Burnley and Watford and the visits to Newcastle and Huddersfield must see a return of at least seven points before the transfer window opens on January 1.

Twenty four points at that point, would to my mind represent an acceptable haul, and keep Albion on track to retain its Premier League status for next year. Then, hopefully, that all important striker, which didn’t materialise in the previous window, will arrive at the club and that will be key in the second half of the season.

On Monday morning I had the privilege of recording a People’s Pundit Special at the Amex with Albion chief executive Paul Barber, which will be released on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms before the weekend.

Having met a few Albion CEO’s over the years in differing circumstances, I found my 30 minutes with Paul fascinating. He certainly didn’t pull any punches, and I hope anyone who watches it finds his his views on the Albion loyalty scheme, the start of our Premier League tenure and transfers extremely interesting.

Whilst I don’t buy into this ‘England never win at Brisbane anyway’, the result of the First Test was a tad disappointing.

Clearly, as in every Test match, and one of its overriding qualities as a cricketing format, there were points over the first four days of the game where England had the chance to put themselves in a winning position, they didn’t but in the end the ten-wicket margin possibly flattered the Aussies. The Ashes saga moves on to Adelaide next, with the first ever day/night Test between the game’s oldest rivals.

The talk this week has been on whether England will enter this new format by picking both his its spinners, a move that would see Worthing’s very own Mason Crane make his Test debut. This theory has been championed by none other than Kevin Pietersen, who whilst having a touch of marmite about him, does know what he’s talking about. One thing is for sure, whether Mason does get the nod or not, any chance of England levelling the series is considerably hampered by the fact that the best cricketer this country has isn’t playing.

You’d probably go as far as saying that Ben Stokes is not only actually two players rather than one, he is arguably in the current top five players in the world.

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