Former Charlton keeper hails way boss has kept players hungryDEAN Kiely has hailed the way Steve Clarke has kept his players’ hungry for more since comfortably reaching the widely recognised 40-point mark for safety at the end of February.
The Baggies’ goalkeeper coach knows from experience how difficult that can be from his top-flight playing days at Charlton.
And with Albion in their third successive Barclays Premier League campaign he admits it would be easy for performances to tail off.
“When I was at Charlton, every year Curbs [Alan Curbishley] wanted us to get to 40 points," said Kiely.
“We got there and one year I remember us beating Tottenham at White Hart Lane midway through March and getting to 40 points and then we fell off a cliff.
“The euphoria of getting to 40 points and having a job well done can change the mentality – I’m not sure how or why.
“The difference here is that the gaffer has said ‘get to 40 points as quickly as possible’ and that leaves it open-ended.
“It isn’t ‘get to 40 points and then relax’.
“What ‘as quickly as possible’ means is that when we get there we reassess and the job isn’t done. We crack on from there.
“It has left the players in no uncertain terms that you don’t get to 40 points and put the hand-break on.
“You power through that 40-point mark.
“At Charlton there was a broad picture and I don’t quite know how it happened.
“I was still a good keeper, we still had a good back four, strikers scoring and a midfield full of energy.
“It was maybe the way it was dressed up to the players - and here it’s been great.
“Yes, 40 points is a target, but it’s a target you get to and move on from.”
Kiely has also praised Albion for taking a steady approach to progression over the last three top-flight seasons rather than making wholesale changes.
And he hopes in improving the squad in the summer the club continues to bring in the types of personalities that fit into the Baggies’ dressing room.
“When I was at Charlton we finished between seventh and 14th - for me that proves you’re a solid, mid-table Premier League team.
“I was at the club when Curbs stood with three new signings and said ‘with these players I am taking us to the next level’ but the other players thought ‘I’m not sure where that next level is’.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say we don’t want to get into Europe.
“If that comes our way it will be a really positive experience and something we’ve got as a result of doing extremely well in the league.
“I think it comes as a consequence of us finishing eleventh, tenth and then wherever we finish this year.
“If it comes that way that’s fantastic, but if we were to change what we had done up to that point and there are loads of egos coming through the door, for me that is a dangerous way.
“If it comes as a result of a progression that would be fantastic.
“I’m sure the gaffer will be making a case and we have our targets. Whether people are available is a different matter.
“But I always make a Charlton analogy because they are so similar, and what this place will not carry is egos.
“You can’t do it the way we’re doing it and then add a couple of egos who are selfish and try to showcase themselves.
“This isn’t that sort of place and I’m glad it isn’t. That’s why I’ve been here for so long.”