I suspect that the most enjoyable part of Saturday afternoon for the Hawthorns faithful will be when the veterans of the 2001/02 campaign are paraded on the pitch, as is rumoured to be the plan to mark the 20th anniversary of Albion’s first Premier League promotion.
Before the resurgence under Gary Megson that culminated in that moment, the Baggies current plight of mid-table second tier obscurity was the norm. Since then, Albion have never finished below fourth place in the second tier…until this season, of course.
The expected dismal performance that seems to follow each victory for the Baggies these days was worse than usual on Monday evening as Steve Bruce’s team were hammered 4-0 at the City Ground to finally put paid to any lingering play-off hopes. It means that Saturday’s visit of Coventry City is pretty meaningless, albeit the Sky Blues may feel they have a chance sitting one place and two points better off than Albion. However, it would take an extraordinary set of results for either club to finish in the top six this season, and anyone who has watched Bruce’s team over recent weeks will know that the chances of them winning successive games, let along three in a row, are pretty slim.
Nonetheless, the Baggies boss still has to pick a team to try to win the game, and it is an unenviable task given the team’s “Jekyll and Hyde” nature. It’s not just inconsistency, it has, on occasion, been a lurch from excellence to unfathomable ineptitude, and I’m not sure what any coach could do with such volatility of performance.
Very few of the starting eleven from Monday’s calamity deserves to keep their spot. At least the man whose errors kicked off the collapse, Darnell Furlong, will not be able to play due to suspension, and another poor performer, Alex Mowatt, will miss the rest of the season to have surgery for a groin problem. However, you could easily make a case to leave out Reach, Livermore, Townsend, Grant, Bartley and even Gardner-Hickman based on the last match, but we’d soon be running out of players. I’m not going to bother trying to pick a team based on form because Albion should now come with the same warning you get when investing in the stock market – past results are no guarantee of future performance!
Coventry City have themselves suffered a drop off in form having, like Albion, been in the top six when the clubs last met in December. After their defeat to the Baggies, a draw with Huddersfield Town saw them drop out of the top six and they haven’t managed to get back in the play-off positions since. Also like Albion, Mark Robins’ team managed to beat Fulham recently, winning 3-1 at Craven Cottage a fortnight ago, but that is one of only three wins City have managed in the eleven games since their victory at Ashton gate on 22nd February.
However, having been in League Two just four years ago, this campaign is one of their best of recent years and they could yet match the 8th place finish they achieved in 2006 which is their best since suffering relegation from the Premier League in 2001. City fans’ feelings on this season will be very different to the Baggies faithful and I’m sure they will eager to inflict more pain by urging their team onto a first victory at the Hawthorns since 2007.
As for the Albion fans, obviously they will be hoping for three points, but it will be fairly meaningless…until the news comes that the five clubs above them have all lost and the hopes are raised again. But that’s just ridiculous.
The club we now know as Coventry City was formed in 1883 as Singers FC, adopting their current name in 1898. It spent much of the first four decades of its existence in non-league football before being elected to the Second Division of the Football League after World War I.
Albion first encountered them in an FA Cup tie at Highfield Road in February 1937, a match that the visitors won 3-2, before meeting for the first time at the Hawthorns in a Division Two fixture in October 1938 – Sandy McNab, Joe Johnson and Teddy Sandford were all on target for the Baggies in a 3-1 victory.
The firs top flight meeting between the teams came in the 1967/68 season when City were first promoted to Division One. They did the double over Albion that season winning 4-2 in Coventry and recording their first ever win at the Hawthorns in February 1968 thanks to a goal by Ernie Hannigan.
Coventry City famously remained in the top flight until the end of the 20th century, finishing in the top half on only seven occasions and surviving multiple relegation battles before finally succumbing in 2001 under the stewardship of Gordon Strachan.
The Baggies have a good record over the Sky Blues winning half of all their meetings and have scored five goals against them on three occasions, six goals twice and also recorded a 7-1 victory in October 1978. Len Cantello, Laurie Cunningham (2), Cyrille Regis (2), Derek Statham and Tony Brown were the goalscorers on that occasion with Mick Ferguson grabbing City’s goal.
City have recorded five further wins at the Hawthorns since that first one in 1968, but only once by more than the odd goal. That was on their last but one visit to B71 in December 2007 when three players scored a brace apiece. Leon Best and Michael Misfud gave the visitors and early two goal lead before a brace from Roman Bednár after the break squared things up. Paul Robinson then received a second yellow card and both Best and Misfud added their second goals in the last seven minutes to make the final score 2-4.
That is the Sky Blues’ only win in their last nine visits to the Hawthorns dating back to 1982. The two encounters prior to that victory saw Albion score an aggregate of eight goals without reply. In March 2004, goals from Geoff Horsfield, Rob Hulse and Mark Kinsella saw the Baggies win 3-0 while in December 2006, it was 5-0 as Diomansay Kamara’s brace was added to by further goals from Jason Koumas, Kevin Phillips and Paul Robinson.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
4 Dec 2021 – League Championship
Coventry City 1 (McFadzean)
West Brom 2 (Grant, McFadzean (o.g.))
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
24 Mar 2010 – League Championship
West Brom 1 (Reid)
Coventry City 0
Albion’s Record against Coventry City