And caretaker boss considers changes to starting XI during busy spell
KEITH Downing expects to face an attacking Tottenham outfit on Boxing Day (ko 3pm) as he ponders changes to his starting XI in view of a hectic Christmas and New Year schedule.
The caretaker boss guided the Baggies to a 1-1 draw against a stubborn Hull outfit on Saturday thanks to Matej Vydra’s last-gasp leveller.
But he expects a totally different proposition at White Hart Lane against a Tim Sherwood-managed Spurs side he watched from the stands against West Ham in the Capital One Cup last week.
“I think we’ve witnessed in the last couple of games Tottenham have been very open and very attack-minded,” said Downing.
“I went down to watch them against West Ham, admittedly there were a few changes because it was a cup game, but their philosophy was very much attack-minded and a positive approach.
“It was very much like Spurs under Harry Redknapp with two wingers attacking at pace.
“I wouldn’t imagine there will be much change to that.
“They’ll target our game as a home win so we need to defend very well and be strong and resolute.”
The Baggies face a quick turnaround between games, with a trip to West Ham to follow less than 48 hours later.
And Downing revealed how they will approach the tough London double-header.
“For me I think it’s madness and I’m sure Sam [Allardyce] will say the same,” he added.
“To have to turnover a game in that short space of time; it’s the first time I’ve come across it.
“We’ll travel down Christmas Day, play Boxing Day, stay down the following day, then play and travel back.
“We’ve got some facilities over in Canary Wharf.
“It will be about recovery – it’s about freshness and people having the energy to play the two games.”
Downing admits confidence has been low in the Albion camp after slipping to 16th in the table.
But he revealed the deserved point against the Tigers has brought a buzz back to the camp.
“Results dictate people’s moods," he said.
“Confidence has to be an issue.
“How you get people to change their confidence and get upbeat is obviously about results.
“That’s the be-all and end-all.
“At the moment there is just that little uncertainty.
“Once everything is sorted I think things will settle down pretty quick.
“I’ve changed a little bit of the training schedule to try and make things a little bit enjoyable and to relax them a little bit.
“It's about putting the work in and relaxing at the same time – trying to get that balance between work and enjoyment.
“I’m a great believer you should look forward to coming in.
“In fairness there’s a better buzz about it this week."