UPDATE as striker clears up situation regarding international futurePETER Odemwingie has revealed how Steve Clarke’s words inspired him to his two-goal salvo in last night’s 2-0 win over Southampton.
The Nigeria striker walked out at The Hawthorns with the head coach’s message to the players ‘no good team loses three games in a row’ ringing in his head.
And his first goals from open play this season ensured the Baggies not only got back to winning ways after harsh last-gasp defeats by Manchester City and Newcastle – but also shot up to fifth in the Barclays Premier League table.
“Of course I’m happy,” said Odemwingie.
“The expectations from our fans are high and even losing against the champions, being disappointed as a team for us means we are getting better and the ambition is there.
“We are showing a very good quality of football as well so that is where the expectations are coming from because we've been getting results against very good sides.
“It is a big plus for us, it's a challenge and the better the results we get, the more confidence grows.
“We are improving as players individually which is very important. I can see. It is obvious many players have improved.
“We were saying in the dressing room after the game that even one point from the previous two games would have put us fourth.
“That would have been brilliant but we are happy because all we needed in this game was to win and you could see in the last minutes we defended with so much concentration.
“After two disappointing games in a row, the head coach said something that stayed in my head: ‘no good team loses three in a row’.
“And what he asked us to do is what we did.
“Gera was flying everywhere, Foster saved, Jonas tackled.
“We kept concentration to the highest maximum possible because even at 2-0 in my mind I was saying 'remember the last two weeks' when things changed in a minute.
“We can really breathe now with relief."
The Baggies’ top scorer for the last two seasons was also delighted to finish a sweeping move for the second goal against the Saints and praised Shane Long for the inch-perfect cross he delivered for him to head home.
“I'm not the best header of the ball, maybe the worst in the team from the forward players, but it was so easy,” Odemwingie added.
“I had to complete my run but didn't know he would cross it so perfectly for me.
“It is a beautiful goal.”
The former Lokomotiv Moscow hitman also believes Albion’s performances this term are deserving of their lofty league position.
“I’m a little bit surprised to be honest but also surprised by the way we've been playing this season,” he said.
“We've had some great home games.
"We lost at Newcastle but deserved, if not the three points, then a point there.
“We are playing really good football now and I'm not surprised by that.
“The head coach is doing a really good job and we are enjoying the training sessions.
“His goal this season was to increase the number of passes we make and that makes you enjoy the game more and brings more excitement.
“We create so many chances and those things are also very encouraging.”
Odemwingie has also moved to clear up media reports casting doubt over his international future.
He insists he is available for action for Nigeria as they build to January’s African Nations Cup.
“There were a few things to clarify with the present manager,” he said.
“Everything is now settled and he says if I want to play, I'm welcome.
“So of course, it is my country that I love and of course I'm going to play for them.
“I will put the country and the fans before anything if there are any disputes - but I'm a very straightforward person.
“If things are not okay, I don't pretend and say things are fine, but definitely I'll put our football fans first in any decisions.
“You know, it is hard not to go for this African Nations Cup – it could be my last.”
Odemwingie also firmly believes Albion can cope with the loss of him and Youssouf Mulumbu (DR Congo) to the South Africa tournament.
“It is a different situation now maybe than my first two years at the club when my goals were very important,” he added.
“Now any player can play well, good players who can play for a whole month and will do well without me.
“Youssouf is also a very important player for us in the middle but we have a number of good players.
“We have El Ghanassay who is still waiting his chance to show something from one of the wings.
“We have Brunt, Morrison and Thorne.
“We have players who can play at this level and Albion took into consideration when recruiting players that a few of us might go.
“I know it's going to be a bit of a loss us leaving for a couple of weeks but we hope the players can follow the team's performance.”