Who is Albion’s biggest rival: Villa or Wolves? The general consensus is that Villa are the traditional rivals. They are also the nearest club geographically.
But Albion and Villa slipped apart during the late 1980s – the latter maintain their rivalry with Blues, while the Baggies fell into the same division as Wolves, whose early 1990s resurgence was led by Steve Bull, who had started his career at the Hawthorns.
The Wolves legend never misses a trick to taunt his former club, further stoking tensions. But Steven Reid believes the visit of McCarthy’s men is the bigger deal.
The Albion utility man has been left in no doubt which of the two games was always going to be bigger for Baggies fans. And it’s not Villa.
Reid, by no means assured of a place in Roberto Di Matteo’s side this Sunday, cannot wait for the big midday kick-off.
He has fond memories of his time with Blackburn when they met arch-enemies Burnley in the Cup some five years ago.
After drawing 0-0 in the first game at Turf Moor, Rovers went onto win the replay 2-1 – with Reid coming on as a substitute in both.
He cannot wait to get his teeth into his first-ever Black Country derby.
“All I’m hearing about is the Wolves game – it’ll be similar to the Blackburn v Burnley game I suppose,” added Reid, who played 135 times for Rovers.
“It seems this is the big one and I’m looking forward to it.
“I hope to be part of it, but we’ll see. It’s a massive game for us. It’s one of those derbies that gets little attention outside the area but is huge here. I’ve played in derbies before and I can’t wait for Sunday. It should be a great day – let’s hope we put on a good performance for the fans.”
And for the ex-Republic of Ireland man the game holds extra significance as he comes up against two faces from his past – Mick McCarthy and Steven Reid.
Mick McCarthy left Millwall just before Reid signed professional terms for the south Londoners. But the Wolves boss and Albion man were finally together with their respective spells with the Republic of Ireland.
Wolves beat Blues last week to put some daylight between themselves and bottom club West Ham.
Yet McCarthy has been subjected to criticism on the Internet, on social media forums and on radio phone-ins.
Reid has been shocked by the level of stick dished out to his former boss.
And he reckons McCarthy has proven himself as a Premier League boss and should be given time. He had urged the Molineux faithful to lay off the Wolves boss.
“I don’t think Mick needs to answer to anyone,” said 29-year-old Reid. “He got the team promoted, kept them up and you don’t become a bad manager overnight.
“I’m sure all the players will be behind him – I hope the fans will. I know Mick well and take it from me he’s a good manager. I knew him well from my time at Ireland.
“But he showed last season what he is capable of doing. Obviously this season there have been other issues about striong tackling and other things which have probably been made unfairly.
“But that’s football and the way it goes. I’m surprised to hear he’s been getting stick. I don’t think you can just write somebody off like that.
“People were asking me about Stephen Ireland at Villa before last week’s game.
“In the same way I think he will turn it round, so will Mick I’m sure.
“He’s done a great job at Wolves, he’s had a difficult start but it’ll be up for grabs this weekend.”
Reid, meanwhile, also knows his Ireland colleague Stephen Hunt, who was very close to joining Albion during pre-season.
The ex-Hull man was identified as a major Baggies target only to opt for Molineux when Albion’s interest waned after they moved onto other targets in the light of Hunt’s injury.
Reid continued: “I know Hunty from when he was at Brentford and I was at Millwall. He’s a great signing for Wolves, gives them lots of energy. A great player.
“It will be a tough game for us and one we might have found very sticky earlier this season.”
Reid, meanwhile, hopes Albion can maintain their good start to the season – despite their setback against Villa last week, when they defeated 2-1 despite being dominant for long periods of the game.
The Kingston-born star hopes Albion can continue to surprise their rivals – having been tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign.
“It’s one of the best starts I’ve had in the Premier League,” he added. “I’d been at Blackburn seven years and I can’t remember a season where we started so well, even though we finished sixth or seventh at the end of the season.
“There is no reason why we can’t kick on. We had a bad result last weekend – we know that. But we have to draw on the positives from this season and look at the bigger picture.
“I know the real aim is 40 points and be safe but if you get there soon then why not kick on?”