And joint-assistant head coach wary of United's never-say-die attitude
KEITH Downing is confident Albion can prove they are no half-season wonders ahead of today’s trip to Manchester United (ko 3pm).
The Baggies have recorded their best-ever halfway total of 33 points and, in the last three Barclays Premier League campaigns, Albion have performed better in the second half of the season.
Steve Clarke’s joint-assistant head coach admits he is pleased with Albion’s performance to date and when asked whether the Baggies could replicate the first half of the season, said: "Why not?
“We don’t set too many targets but 40 points was the objective at the start of the season and we go from there.
“We don’t fear anybody and on our day we will give anybody a game.
“We realise that the top five or six is a tall order, but we have put ourselves in with a shout and it’s something to aim for.
“We are pleased with our performance so far.
“We felt quietly confident at the start that we would have a reasonable season and the biggest worry is the fact there was a change of head coach.
“But Steve has come in and it’s been seamless.
"There were big shoes to fill after Roy but Steve has done exceptionally well in his first job as a head coach.
“His strength is that he has realised what the strengths of the club were and what Roy did, and he has put his own slant on it without revolutionising anything.”
United have sealed three of their last seven victories with goals in the final five minutes of Premier League fixtures and Downing believes the Red Devils' never-say-die attitude is the hallmark of would-be champions.
“They continue to do it but they have the ability to throw people on – different people with different strengths," he added.
“It’s very early to say if they will be champions - but they are the front-runners.
"They have the ability to grind out results when they’re not playing well and they have the ability to turn a game on its head.
“To say they will be champions... I think there are two or three others who would disagree, but at the moment it’s looking very good."