“Oscar Garcia, he drinks sangria, he came from Barca, to bring us joy.”
The latest song from the Albion faithful has lacked conviction until 11 wonderful second half minutes against Bolton Wanderers this afternoon. A second half that has perhaps allowed Albion fans to drink from the good cup of optimism for the first time this season.
I’ll fess up that this is only my second viewing of the Albion this season. A combination of reasons meant that I got zero value for money for my East Stand season ticket in the first three home league games of the season which I couldn’t attend. My first sight of the mighty blue and white (well, yellow) was at QPR away on Wednesday followed by Bolton at home on Saturday. Call me a Plastic if you like.
I didn’t enter this season full of optimism. Defeat at Palace left me with the biggest football hangover I’ve had for many many years. I’m old enough to know better but that defeat hurt deeply for a long time. And we all know what happened after Holloway left the Amex with his Wembley tickets tucked in his back pocket. We watched from the sidelines at the mini-implosion that was the departure of Gus, Mauricio and Charlie. Whatever the reasons, it was sad that our journey on the Gus Bus had to end in such an excruciating way. As a result of all this. I started this season predicting a tenth place finish for the boys in blue and white.
And the start to the season has, until about five past four this afternoon, been stuttering. Not disastrous, but not spectacular. The surge to the play-offs last season when we seemed to sweep all before us for two or three months felt a long time ago.
Until this afternoon. There are lots of reasons I love not only this result, but this performance.
First, Oscar has removed the monkey off our back that was the “we never come from behind to win” moniker. Nice to have that little curse lifted.
Second, Barnes got the goal that his running at QPR deserved. Okay, well he deserved it even if he didn’t quite get it, but he caused it. I’m an Ash fan, certainly think he has a part to play even if I doubt his ability to lead the line alone at this level, but boy does he put a shift in. Nice to see that rewarded with his pressure resulting in an OG.
Third, Calde scored. Cult hero that man is and anyone who doubts it really needs to listen to his performance on The Albion Roar last season. Total class act.
Fourth, for the third goal Buckers showed us the skill we all know he has but which has been missing a bit of late. Plus Spanish Dave seemed back on song on Spanish Day.
And fifth, and I’m not always his biggest fan, Lua Lua bossed the game. I mean, really bossed it. I’ve not seem him do that before for 90 minutes and he showed how effective he can be when his head is in game mode. I found it puzzling in the extreme that the match sponsors gave man of the match to Rohan Ince.
So, it’s sangrias all round then. The Seagulls’ flight path is back on track. Six games unbeaten. Five points from nine against Reading, QPR and Bolton is a healthy return. Perhaps that will help the Amex finally get rid of its post-play-off hangover, an eleven minutes to blow away the cobwebs.
Of course, there’s a long way to go just yet. This is only the beginning of Oscar’s journey. But that second half today from a squad still somewhat decimated by injury was the cause for much optimism. Who needs a Gus Bus when you have Oscar’s wardrobe, the only man who can get away with wearing Farahs, a sweater and tie and still look classy. Well, I guess he has come from Barca, they can get away with that look on the continent.
Perhaps he really has come to bring us joy. But I’m sticking with my prediction of tenth for now. I hope I’m wrong.