Mind games

Friday 8 March 2002

Either West Brom Manager Gary Megson is scared stiff of Fulham or, he is very carefully trying to play mind games with both sides ahead of Sunday's clash at the Hawthorns.

One suspects it's the latter as the Baggies highly rated Manager attempts gee up his own players, whilst giving ours the idea that Sunday will be nothing more than a breeze for them.

On Thursday Megson warned his team to "buck up or get beaten 10-0" and this morning Megson is again playing down his sides chances of victory.

Speaking with John Simpson of the official WBA website Megson commented:

"I said last season Fulham were the best First Division team I'd ever seen - but they're even better now"

"They've improved no end by bringing some fantastic players in. They're playing at a higher standard than this time last year and that's a frightening prospect.

"We've had three reports on Fulham. And whereas normally you get a list of teams' weaknesses which you can attempt to exploit, we're struggling to find one!

He added:

"All their players are quick with ability and they are also a big strong team. They're packed with stars."

Shocks invariably come in the earlier rounds, when big players get closer to the big prize, they tend not to slip up."

Despite a disappointing mid-week performance Megson has ruled out making wholesale changes for Sunday's sell-out clash at the Hawthorns.

The Baggies sparkling form seemed to desert them against Watford and Megson was left wondering whether his side had one eye on the FA Cup.

He said:

"We'll give people the benefit of the doubt that it was a one off - but they'd better make sure it is a one off."

"We will never know if any of them had Sunday on their minds because they're never going to admit it.

"I asked them at half-time if anyone fancied coming off to save themselves for Fulham, but there were no takers.

"So I assumed everybody was doing their best and giving it all they'd got - but it certainly didn't look like it.

"It's going to be a really tense and nervous run-in if we're going to perform like that for the rest of the season.

"We've won our last three Saturday matches but our midweek results have been poor."

Megson went on the say that he believes Sunday will be all about performers and experience adding:

"I'd be hard pressed to name more than a couple of our players who have played in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup"

"The same goes for Fulham, but for very different reasons, because several of their players haven't been in this country that long.

"It might be uncharted waters for quite a few people on Sunday and the outcome will depend on how they deal with the occasion.

"Losing Jason Roberts was a big blow to us but I don't think Fulham would fear anybody here because they play against good players week in, week out.

"But we've got people who will hopefully grow in stature on the day.

"As ever, there will be 22 players out there. Some will freeze while others will get turned on by the occasion - and we need more to relish it than to freeze."

Despite Megson's warning's there can be no doubt that history is on his Club's side.

The Baggies have won all three of their previous FA Cup meetings with Fulham and the hosts have not lost a sixth round tie on home soil for 117 years.