All is not well at West Bromwich Albion. After a second successive Premier League defeat was greeted with boos, Albionâ€™s goalkeeper fired a few home truths back at the supporters who had turned on the captain. Ben Foster described the way that Chris Brunt was jeered off the pitch, when the midfielder was withdrawn 20 minutes before the end, as â€œpatheticâ€.
It is not the first time that Brunt â€“ who has made more than 250 appearances for Albion since joining from Sheffield Wednesday in 2007 â€“ has been criticised by the fans but Foster took particular exception to the abuse that the Northern Ireland midfielder received. He defended Bruntâ€™s work rate and contribution over the years, and said that the stick that came his way was unjustified and counter-productive.
â€œIt is absolutely ridiculous that somebody who has been an incredible servant to this club for such a long time gets that,â€ Foster said. â€œHe always gives his all and heâ€™s somebody I would always have in the team. Itâ€™s not needed. It is really silly. It doesnâ€™t help at all. Itâ€™s pathetic, to be honest.
â€œHe is everything weâ€™re about. He works his socks off. Thereâ€™s no need to boo somebody. If he very obviously wasnâ€™t putting it in or couldnâ€™t be bothered, then fair enough, but thatâ€™s not the case. Nobody likes that [being booed], I donâ€™t care who you are, whether youâ€™re the manager, the goalkeeper or centre-forward.
â€œIf youâ€™re getting ridiculed and abused like that, it affects you and thereâ€™s no need for it. These are our supporters and we need our supporters to support us and not do things like that. Itâ€™s not nice. You can understand frustration but itâ€™s not like weâ€™re not trying. If that happens, fans are well within their rights to do whatever they like.
â€œIf they can see the club isnâ€™t putting it in and the players arenâ€™t working, they can boo, but thatâ€™s not the case.â€
A lack of concentration, rather than a lack of effort, is hindering Alan Irvineâ€™s side. Jonas Olssonâ€™s miskicked clearance led to Everton taking the lead inside two minutes, when Romelu Lukaku dispatched a curling shot into the far corner, and Foster admitted making a â€œschoolboy mistakeâ€ in the second half. He allowed Kevin Mirallasâ€™s tame shot to slip under his body at the near post and from that point on the result was never in doubt.
For Everton, victory was the shot in the arm that they badly needed before a run of six games in 18 days, starting with Thursdayâ€™s visit of Wolfsburg in the Europa League â€“ a competition that Roberto MartÃnez has promised to take seriously. â€œLast year we had to work so hard for 38 games to achieve that, so it would be nonsense or stupid to say that we donâ€™t want to be giving everything weâ€™ve got,â€ the Everton manager said. â€œWe really want to go all the way in the Europa League.â€
One of the most gratifying aspects of this first league win of the season for Everton was that they kept a clean sheet after conceding 10 goals in their previous three matches. â€œThe gaffer told us in not so many words that we need to improve,â€ Tim Howard, the goalkeeper, said. â€œIt got hammered into us this week after the internationals, to get the bit between our teeth, and we did that and that is the response we were looking for.â€
At the other end of the pitch, Everton have a Â£28m striker hell-bent on making the most of his talent. â€œRomelu wants to be the best footballer in the world, he really does. Thatâ€™s what he thinks of himself,â€ Howard said.
â€œHe gets his head down and he works, and we push him. Heâ€™s electric, heâ€™s alive, he celebrates goals in training, everything counts to him. Everything matters. Thatâ€™s what you want to see. There are too many young kids that take it for granted. He doesnâ€™t.â€ – The Guardian