Tony Mowbray admits that he’s bemused by the so-called pressure facing Luiz Felipe Scolari as Albion prepare to visit Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are second in the Premier League, have qualified for the Champions League and take on Albion on Boxing Day knowing that a victory could send them back to the top.
For Mowbray just being on the same ball park as Chelsea is an achievement following two years of change at The Hawthorns under his stewardship.
This season Albion find themselves bottom and on 15 points but Mowbray has so far escaped any undue pressure, whether through the media or from his own fans.
But the Albion manager cannot help but be fascinated by the vultures circling around Stamford Bridge.
“I find it humorous that people think Chelsea are struggling when they are second in the League and have qualified for the later stages of the Champions League,” said Mowbray, who has been struck down by the same bug as so many of his players.
“They’re sitting top of the League and people say they’re struggling – it’s quite funny.
“Some time ago Luiz Felipe Scolari was a football genius.
“Now people are calling phone-ins saying he’s tactically inept.
“That’s how the industry works – it makes me laugh.
“ I think he’ll be fine.
“He’s got world-class players, won the World Cup and people are asking whether he can cope in England.
“He makes people feel special, he promotes good attacking football and he knows he needs to win, as he would have understood when he was manager of Brazil.
“We will try and frustrate on Friday. We know how much quality they have.
“Perhaps they will go more direct against us, who knows? Chelsea might be sick of teams stringing players across the middle of the pitch, or as Jose Mourinho used to say, ‘parking a bus’ across the goalmouth.”
Mowbray will be without Filipe Teixeira (calf injury) and Borja Valero, who has still not trained following his recent illness.
Jonathan Greening should be fit despite taking a blow to the head against Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Belgian defensive midfielder Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe has just returned to Hamburg following a brief trial with Albion.
The 19-year-old spent a few days training with Mowbray’s side and may be a consideration as a potential loan signing.
“Vadis went back yesterday,” said Mowbray of the ex-Anderlecht and Gent player, who represented Belgium’s under-23 side at the Olympics.
“We’ve had a few in over the last months.
“He’s just a young boy. One of our scouts who knows him from his days at Anderlecht suggested him.
“He’s a midfielder – a holding central midfield player.
“Whether we do anything, we don’t know – let’s wait and see.
“We will have a few conversations but I don’t think he’s a young boy who will come in and smash his way into the team.”