BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
West Bromwich Albion captain Jonathan Greening is hoping history does not repeat itself and the Baggies come up against a rejuvenated Sunderland tomorrow following the departure of their manager Roy Keane.
The Black Cats were going through a similar slump two years ago when Keane took over and faced Albion in his first game in charge. Inevitably, as the Sunderland players sought to impress their new manager, the Baggies were well beaten 2-0 at the Stadium of Light in August 2006.
Now Greening is hoping the Sunderland players do not have the bit between their teeth again as the search for Keane’s successor begins.
“I don’t know what losing Roy Keane will do to them,” Greening said.
“The last time we played them Roy was appointed the day before and they beat us. It didn’t really help us out really because their players were really, really up for it. I am not saying we weren’t up for it, but when you get a new manager it is like you are fighting for your life again, fighting for your future at the club.
“I remember when Tony Mowbray came. I think he was appointed on the Thursday or the Friday and Nigel Pearson was the caretaker on the Saturday against Ipswich Town away and we beat them 5-1, and we were on fire that day.
“It was just that thought that if we didn’t play well that day then he is going to think, ‘well I don’t want him in my team’.
“It could be a hindrance but hopefully they won’t name anyone and there will be a caretaker manager in charge, and we will just try and put a good performance on.”
Roman Bednar, Luke Moore and Craig Beattie, who was recalled from his loan spell at Crystal Palace this week, will all be vying to replace Ishmael Miller as the focal point of Albion’s attack after the 21-year-old striker was ruled out for the rest of the season after damaging his cruciate knee ligament late on in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Portsmouth.
Miller could be out for nine months, which will create an opportunity for one of the trio of strikers to impress manager Tony Mowbray and convince him that he does not need to dig too deeply during the transfer window to find a striker who can add a seal to Albion’s promising recent attacking displays.
Winger James Morrison is returning to his native North East and the former Middlesbrough man believes the Sunderland clash is a must-win. He also revealed the players have been putting in extra shooting practise in training.
“It is a massive game,” Morrison said. “They are struggling as well and it would be nice to go back up north and put one past them as a former Boro boy.
“The gap is getting bigger to safety so it is a must-win game really.
“It’s all about winning now. We’ve been putting in good performances and not collecting the three points.
“We need to learn how to win a bit better in this league. Goals win you matches and If you look at the last few games, we’ve had chances and we just need to finish them.
“After training yesterday me and Roman stayed behind trying to put the ball in the back of the net. I always try to improve my game.
“I’ve had chances recently but not put them away and that could be the difference between winning and losing. I’m trying to put that right.”