A varied Tuesday morning Mailbox, with thoughts on the England U21s, a Sterling ruse, Kane realism, Wenger coaching youth and enjoying the charity match...
As it's the international break, the Spanish Thing goes Stateside for a week. The defending may be suspect, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a retirement home...
What do the papers, the TV, and fans of other clubs think about your team? In this series, John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at the stereotypes, coverage and media agendas for each team in the Premier League. And hey kids, just because they're pointing them out, it don't mean they're endorsing them. This week, it's West Brom. Boing.
Ex-player pundit presence
Former manager Ron Atkinson still emerges occasionally from the woodwork wearing a camel hair coat and a Rock Against Racism spotters' badge. Bryan Robson is rarely seen these days, you might get a taste of Cyrille Regis very occasionally. Brendon Batson is more prominent due to his work with the PFA. And that's about it. Ex-West Brom players seem to be last on the call-list when punditry gravy is being sloshed about. Are they all mute? Or is there a conspiracy to silence them? Mind you, we did once see Danny Dichio on TV once. It was enough. Maybe it's all his fault.
People on the telly with a West Midlands accent seem much more likely to support WBA than any of the region's other clubs. Not sure if there is some sort of correlation between talking Brummie and being good in front of a camera, but how about: Frank Skinner, Adrian Chiles, Josie Lawrence (half of this column had a nice chat to her while in a queue to see Reginald D Hunter at the Edinburgh Festival. She was brilliant and funny and we feel in love), Julie Walters, Lenny Henry, Floella Benjamin, Big Ted, Little Ted, Robin Askwith of the utterly gash and not in any way sexy 'Confessions' films on the 70s), Cat Deeley, Leslie Crowther (one half of this column met his daughter, she was with Phil Lynott at the time, yeah, rock n roll, huh. Phil told us to f*ck off) Ronnie Wood, ELO's lugubrious sticksman Bev Bevan and most of good-early-albums-before-that-NWOBHM-business, Judas Priest.
Back Page Leaders
Much fun was had with the Peter Odemwingie saga but that's an unusual excursion into the big typeface for them. Useful club for all sub-editors to fit into headlines, because being known as West Brom, WBA, The Albion, West Bromwich Albion and The Baggies means they can fit almost any space you've got available (usually in the bottom left-hand column of the inside back page.)
Gaffer's media skills
Steve Clarke seems well liked and respected amongst the media types. Being British gets him a free pass from many, of course. But the feeling is that he's man who has paid his dues and earned his right to be gaffer at this level. Seems an undemonstrative sort of chap, prone to looking miserable and dour, which is every Scotsman's birth right. Often seems surprisingly uncomfortable and out of place in media situations and looks like he may have been dressed by his mother. In some ways seems a man out of time.
Vox pop cliché fan
Boing Boing happy. Baggies types are always laughing and yet behind the laughter lies tears. Yer West Midlander is a phlegmatic sort who accepts failure as an inevitable. Keeps smiling through, with an endearingly depressed- sounding accent. Doing a lot better than Wolves, and that's good enough for many.
Keyboard Warrior Ferocity
Like so many clubs that are simply delighted to be at the party, there's no sense of entitlement or even much expectation from Baggies fans so no-one is going to get upset and beastly on the internet. Impossible to dislike, they probably realise abusing people on the internet offers only brief, fleeting fun followed swiftly by a sense of despair and self-loathing, qualities that are in abundance in the West Midlands at the best of times.
Good, honest, hard-working local club full of local fans being local with local accents. The model club for all aspirant Premier League survivors to follow built on the yo-yo principle of financial momentum. Robust and yet canny. Slow to sack managers and a good place for unheard-of but handy players to ply their trade.
Bloody hell, it's cold here isn't it? I didn't realise it was the highest ground in the league. Why is everyone shouting Boing Boing? Which league are they in this season? That Peter Odemwingie is in a car outside my house.
Archetypal news stories
'Adrian Chiles's face made illegal'
'Supermarket confusion over Tesco Value football strip'
'Big Ron denies being racist after "white chocolate" gaffe'
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
See Alan's new book 'Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects' here
Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here
Alan on The Ashes and more here.