West Bromwich Albion v Blackpool; The Hawthorns, Tuesday 1st November 2022, 8pm
Carlos Corberán will have had next to no time to address any issues he identified in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United with Albion’s next home game coming just three days later on Tuesday evening. Blackpool are the visitors and they will be hopeful of taking advantage of the Baggies’ poor form and record their first win at the Hawthorns since 1963.
The Seasiders are currently in 15th place following a recent run of form having been only just above the drop zone early in October. Eleven points from the last six games has lifted them up the table and they are now eight points better off than the Baggies. The game will see the return of Michael Appleton to the Hawthorns for the second time as an opposition head coach – he was in charge of Oxford United when they lost on penalties to Alan Irvine’s Baggies in the League Cup in August 2014. Having been Albion’s caretaker manager for the 3-3 draw with West Ham United in February 2011 before Roy Hodgson took over, he is yet to taste victory or an in-game defeat as the top man at the Hawthorns.
Albion find themselves bottom of the table, the latest point in a second tier season that they have ever occupied that position. Only in 1994 has a Baggies side been bottom of the table later than after the opening three fixtures, occupying the last step on the ladder after eleven games – when Albion did suffer relegation to the third tier in 1991, they were never bottom of the table.
Hopefully it will be a mere footnote to the season, but Saturday’s display did not offer much hope that a turnaround will be quick. While Corberán claims to have studied Albion’s games this season, there can be no substitute to seeing the problems at first hand. He stuck with the formation that the players had been recently familiar with rather than change too much too soon, but the sloppy mistakes at the back have become a feature of Baggies games in recent weeks and it is one area that he and his coaching team need to address quickly.
As I said in my match report, it’s primarily a confidence thing – confidence in themselves, their teammates and the system – it will take time to build it all, but I’m sure Corberán will approach it step by step and he will be confident in his own ability to turn it around.
Tuesday night, however, might be a little too soon and if Albion do fall behind again, it could be a difficult evening. An early goal in the right end could make a massive difference, however. A little more luck on Saturday could have produced a goal, and the second half was a step forward on the first, so maybe they can take something from that.
This is the beginning of a long road for Carlos and his team, and he needs the fans to come along with him and support the team. There may be players that fans feel have continually let them down but, until January at least, most of them are still going to have to be the ones we rely on, so I personally see no real purpose in booing them – the whole team need our support at the moment.
Blackpool’s first visit to the Hawthorns was for a Division Two fixture in February 1902. Albion were well on course for a return to the top flight at the first time of asking and dispatched the Seasiders with ease running out 7-2 winners thanks to a hat trick from Chippy Simmons, a brace from Tommy Worton and further goals from Jackie Kifford and Jim Stevenson.
The first 22 meetings between the sides were all in the second tier and the Baggies held the upper hand during that period, particularly at the Hawthorns. As well as the 7-2 win, they recorded two 5-1s, a 6-3, a 5-0, a 4-2 and two 3-0s at the Shrine before the clubs first met in the top flight in September 1931. Albion carried on in the same vein with a 4-0 win thanks to a Ginger Richardson brace, a goal from Tommy Glidden and an own goal from Eric Longden.
It would be another three decades before the Baggies recorded their best win over Blackpool in April 1952. Derek Kevan was the hero that day with four goals with Jack Lovatt, Bobby Robson and a Don Howe penalty rounding off a 7-1 victory – Ray Charnley scored the visitors’ consolation.
Blackpool haven’t won at the Hawthorns for almost sixty years, their last victory at the Shrine coming in March 1963. In their twelve visits since then, the Baggies have won nine including the last six. The last time the Seasiders avoided defeat at the Hawthorns was in March 1976 when they earned a 0-0 draw.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
15 Apr 2022 – League Championship
West Brom 2 (Carroll, Grant)
Blackpool 1 (Ekpiteta)
Albion’s Record against Blackpool
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