West Bromwich Albion are the most unlucky team in the Premier League right now. Every fan of every team must carry this opinion of their team at some point – it is, as Mick Jagger would say, almost a prerequisite of being a fan. That though, is misleading, firstly because Mick Jagger has never said those words or anything like them, and secondly, because, in fact, my genius allows me to distance myself from the everyday prejudices of fandom and when I say that my team is unlucky, I say it without the influence of prejudice.
Luck represents, broadly, the things that happen which are out of a team’s control: refereeing decisions and injuries to players are the most prominent examples of what I will today be calling luck.
West Brom’s bad luck began – in a sustained sense – against Blackpool on 1st November 2010 – coincidentally the same day that an igloo made of fridges opened in Hamburg http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11669078. More specifically, it began when A Referee sent off Pablo Ibanez and gave a penalty to Blackpool for what was, wholeheartedly, an innocuous challenge. The penalty was scored, Blackpool went one goal up, then Gonzalo Jara was rightly sent off, Blackpool scored again and the game was already over when Yousouff Mulumbu pulled a goal back for West Brom. That game went against West Brom after Ibanez was sent off: had he not been, it is fair to question everything that went on after that decision. Would Blackpool, a team beaten by West Brom twice last season, have been able to score so easily against eleven men? Would Gonzalo Jara have got himself sent off? The frustration continues when it is considered that Ibanez would not even have been playing in that game had it not been for an earlier incidence of bad luck – the injury against Fulham suffered by Jonas Olsson.
Bad luck perpetuates itself. After that small decision going the wrong way and losing West Brom the game, they went on a poor run of form. Who is to say that had they won the game, they would not have beaten Wigan, West Ham, Stoke, or even Manchester City had their good form (unbeaten in eight games before that defeat) not been disrupted? (Disclaimer: If there is anyone to say it, I refuse to recognise their opinion.)
But one incidence of bad luck, however crucial, is not enough to claim number one spot in the unlucky stakes – though had I found only that one, I would probably still have made the claim. Other crucial issues of luck have gone on the un-side for West Brom. Injuries to Peter Odemwingie – The Star Striker - Jonas Olsson, Gabriel Tamas, Gonzalo Jara, Pablo Ibanez and Nicky Shorey – The Defence – have often overlapped, leaving second-string elevens to face top-class opposition. Further, penalty decisions have not been given in West Brom’s favour against Manchester United and, more recently, Wigan – both games where one goal could have secured a ‘good’ result.
Clearly then, some things which the West Brom management cannot control have gone against the team, but this in itself is still not enough to claim Most Unlucky status. Other teams must first be discredited as having better luck. How can this be done without an encyclopaedic knowledge of each of the other team’s games this season? It can’t. Well, I say it can’t; what I actually mean is that it can’t be done fairly. This is unfortunate, as it means that I’ll have to discredit other teams unfairly.
At this point, it was my intention to break down the league and prove that: teams in the bottom half, but ahead of West Brom, were only ahead because they had slightly better luck than West Brom; that teams in the top half – usually through refereeing decisions – also have more luck; and that teams below West Brom – apart from Wolves – had been so much worse than them when they played, their lowly positions must surely have been justified. This took too long though, and was hardly convincing.
Disappointingly then, I can only conclude that West Brom have had a lot of bad luck, and at crucial stages in their season, but it is only through the eyes of a fan that they can be described as the most unlucky because no-one – not even me and my genius - has the comprehensive knowledge to make fair comparisons with other teams. A bit rubbish, that. Opinion pieces are, actually, a bit rubbish, however much they pretend to have fact on their side.
“It is impossible to experience one's death objectively and still carry a tune.” – Woody Allen. And with that, Ethan left them – they were all visibly devastated that his piece had come to an end.
*If I proof-read this piece it will probably never go up, hence it has not been proof-read.
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