Club News

Downing to embrace 'defining' spell

And caretaker boss hoping to galvanise troops for Hull clash

KEITH Downing insists he is ready to ‘embrace’ the pressure as Albion embark on what he has described as a 'defining' spell in their season.

The caretaker boss is hoping he can galvanise the troops heading into tomorrow’s crunch clash with Hull (ko 3pm) – the first of four games in 11 days.

And he also feels he has amends to make as he looks to end a run of four successive Baggies defeats.

“It’s a really busy period,” said Downing.

“It’s a really tough period and a defining period.

“It’s not the be-all and end-all but if we can pick up a few points along the way for the new man that will help.

“If we can get a few points on the board we can get up to mid-table.

“The players realise the situation.

“They are not blasé about it and they’re not drifting through each game.

“There is an awareness about the importance of changing this poor run.

“I feel responsible.

“I think you have to embrace the pressure.

“It’s part of the job.

“I’m looking forward to it and me and Dean [Kiely] are relishing it.

“It’s under difficult and sad circumstances.

“But speaking to Steve [Clarke], he said it’s an opportunity and to have a go at it.

“I managed at Cheltenham for 15/16 months, which is obviously a smaller club, but it’s still managing.

“So, I don’t get fazed by it, I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve been part of the support staff for the last four or five years.

“And for me, at this club, I think that’s my role.

“We all have ambitions but ultimately, here, it’s about support and making it a smooth transition.”

The former Robins boss, who is working on a game-to-game basis, is hoping he can guide 16th-placed Albion up the table before handing over to whoever the Baggies board appoint as the new permanent head coach.

“Our remit at the moment is on a game-to-game basis,” he confirmed.

“We’ve had a decent week, the players have responded well, we’re positive, and we need to make sure we get the right selection because three points changes the mood.

“Over the course of the last couple of days things have started to settle.

“The slate is clean and we’ve got 23/24 players who will feel they want to be in the starting line-up.

“I’m sure it will galvanise some and some who have got the shirt will want to keep it.

“The new man will decide – a fresh pair of eyes – and I think it will stir the squad up. 

“The players have been good with me and Dean.

“There’s been a good response and I’m there to support them – they know that.

“Ultimately for me, it’s about smoothing the pathway for the new man.”

He added: “This is a big job.

“This is a big Premier League club.

“And in the past the board have got it right.

“Steve was a good acquisition; Roy [Hodgson] before that, and so was Robbie Di Matteo."

Scott Sinclair is 11/1 to score the first goal in the game against Hull with Sky Bet. To bet now and for more odds, click here.