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INSIDE INFO: Back-and-forth with the Baggies

We speak with a West Brom fan ahead of Saints' trip to the Midlands on Saturday.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Following on from Southampton's disappointing loss to Liverpool, Ronald Koeman's men will attempt to get back to winning ways against a resurgent West Bromwich Albion side enjoying the fledgling tenure of ex-Portsmouth man Tony Pulis.

This week, we speak to West Brom fan, and editor of The Baggies WayAlex Newton about Pulis' impact, how Brown Ideye will prove the doubters wrong, and the Baggies are better off flogging Saido Berahino in the summer.

St. Mary's Musings: What were your season expectations before it had started and have they changed since?
Alex Newton: We had to be realistic: we had a very poor season last season and we'd been chopping and changing our manager and had recently appointed Alan Irvine. We just wanted to stay in the league which is what any team like Albion want to do.

We expected a tough season but it was even tougher than we thought which led to Irvine's dismissal. Since the appointment of Pulis things have changed and the mood has lifted: we're now targeting a mid-table finish rather than simply looking to survive.

SMM: Where do you think you will finish in the league at the end of the season?
AN: We sit 14th now with just 12 games remaining and we have a very tricky final five games so we can't expect things to get much better than where we are now. I'm not really worried about relegation like I was around Christmas time so I'd expect us to finish between 12th-14th.

SMM: Were you happy with the Tony Pulis appointment? How much has the team changed since he came in?
AN: Extremely, he won manager of the season last season for his exploits at Palace and that was no fluke he's a brilliant man manager. <!-- ######## START FLOATED VIDEO SNIPPET ######## -->

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He's never been relegated in 22 seasons as a boss: something that means a lot to him. He brought in experience and improved the defence. In terms of changing the team, he brought in a new captain in Darren Fletcher and pace we desperately needed in Callum McManaman.

He knew the weak points and improved them straight away. We've kept clean sheets in 6 of our last 9 games and only lost once under him so it's a great appointment.

SMM: Brown Ideye. Is he any good?
AN: I believe he has bags of quality and just needed a goal. Throughout the season I have been saying it's a confidence thing with him and he's proved that as he's now firing on all cylinders. It's a huge credit to him how he kept going when he was close to being sold and with some Baggies fans turning on him. But, he's proving the doubters wrong. He still has a long way to go to pay off the £10m price tag but he's getting there and next season he should be even better.

SMM: What do you and other WBA fans think of Southampton?
AN: I couldn't speak for every Albion fan but I'm a big admirer of Southampton. I even play as them on Football Manager! They have a brilliant youth set-up and play attractive football. They're a well-run club and it's great to see a club of their stature doing so well in the league, I'd love them to get a top four spot but I think you will just miss out.

SMM: What did you make of Southampton's summer exodus?
AN: It was always going to happen after the season you had, but you coped with it fantastically. Pelle has scored goals wherever he has played and Tadic won Eredivsie player of the year last season and it's easy to see why.

Obviously, the players were a big loss to the club but, in hindsight, it was great business because of the money you got for some of those players. There is no way Luke Shaw is worth £30m.

SMM: If you could sell any player of the WBA starting XI, who would it be and why?
AN: There are two I have in mind. The first is Chris Baird, who was only signed in the summer, but he's disappointed me all season and I hope we get rid of him and bring in more youth players in the summer.

The other may shock you, but I'd also say Saido Berahino. He's been heavily linked with a move away off the back of a great season and it looks like he'll go in the summer. He's our best player but it's a great chance to get £25m for him. That would help the club so much and we can't be stuck under the illusion that a player is bigger than the club.

SMM: If you could buy any Saints player, who would it be and why?
AN: Pelle. We desperately need another striker as we're short upfront and I love Pelle's style of play: he reminds me of Berbatov as he's someone who could play the game walking. He's suffering a bit of a goal drought at the moment but I'm sure it will not last long; hopefully it doesn't end this weekend!

SMM: What is your prediction for the match?
AN: A tight game, both of us are good defensively but I believe we will both score I'll go for a 1-1 draw with Ideye and Tadic scoring.