Writer: Jorge's Jottings
Date:Sunday August 20 2006
On saturday it was sad to hear a few saddlers 'fans' booing one of there own players. Something which in reality never helps player or club. This time it was defender Chris Westwood on the end of the abuse. Today we look at the Chris Westwood issue.
Chris joined the saddlers last summer and was made captain before a ball was kick in anger. Then manager went public on his high regard for the player, this was backed up by glowing reports from former club Hartlepool, where fans had voted him player of the season previously. Also Hartlepool had just failed to make the Championship losing in the play off final to Sheff Wed.
Simple fact is in most fans eyes Chris Westwood has failed to live up to the hype.
However the hype was down to Paul Merson to some extent and Chris Westwood has gone on record praising new set up, which reading between the lines comdemmed the Merson way. Westwood was not the only player to suffer from the Merson era.
When he played last season performances were not too hot and he was eventually dropped. However this was also the case at Hartlepool, he is a player that seems to take time to settle. Also he was partner was Anthony Gerrard a different type of defender to what Chris likes to play with, Gerrard a fans favorite (and rightly so) also needed guiding in his first season. As did to a lesser extent Julian Bennett. At Hartlepool Chris had a partnership with a tall commanding centre half who would go for the first ball the majority of the time. Westwood would sweep behind, last gasp tackling and blocking were his strenghts rather than heading away bombs from the opposition half....Merson didn't play him that way.
In an injury effected season I am sure Chris Westwood would agree himself that he did not perform to his highest level, but I have no doubt that he gave 100%.
This season he missed the first game, came on as a 76 minute sub for Craig Pead against Stockport, played well at full back against Hartlepool, albeit still adjusting to the role and the positioning required, but 100 times better than when he filled the role away at Blackpool last season. One saturday he didn't have a good game, but he had no protection from Mark Wright who was totally missing. When Carlos came on he was given an attacking brief so again limited cover, so I feel saturdat we were a little too hard on the guy.
If we give him time to settle into the new role and he doesn't provide the goods then fair enough.
I would also bet that at centre half with Alan Picken, who would attack the first ball like Nelson did for Hartlepool we would see the true Chris Westwood.
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Date:Sunday August 20 2006
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