Club News

McAuley: We've got belief back

And defender gives his thoughts on Palace trip

GARETH McAuley says belief has been restored heading into what he has described as a 'massive' game at relegation rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday (ko 3pm).

The Baggies centre-half was recalled to the starting XI that came from behind to draw 1-1 with title-challengers Liverpool on Sunday.

And after clocking up an 11th stalemate of the campaign - more than any other team in the Barclays Premier League - he is targeting the first win of Pepe Mel's reign.

But between 16th-placed Albion and three points stands a Palace side who are only behind the Baggies on goal difference thanks to back-to-back 1-0 home wins over Stoke and Hull under new boss Tony Pulis.

“Liverpool are flying and we saw what they did to Everton, so it was a great point for us," said McAuley, who scored in the 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture with the Eagles in November.

“We talked after the Villa game, when we got ourselves in front and went a bit gung-ho and ended up losing the game.

“We had to find a better balance and I think we did that, and in the second half we were able to get on the front foot and put pressure on.

“We got the crowd on our side. It was a mistake on their part with a pass to Victor but he took it well and got us back into the game.

“Apart from a world-class save that Fozzy made, we didn’t give them too many chances.

“It was a good point and hopefully it gives us a bit of belief going into the next run of games.

“The Palace game is massive for us. We know what we’ve got to do.

“We’ve got to go there and be positive, and it will be a different type of game to what we faced on Sunday.

"We will work on that and hopefully we can go there in a positive frame of mind because we know we need results.

“We have 11 draws now.

"You get one point for a draw but three for a win so we have to find the right balance - and that is one of the hardest things to do in football."

McAuley looks sure to line-up against Palace with fellow centre-half Jonas Olsson already ruled out of the Selhurst Park encounter due to a hamstring injury.

And he hopes he can hang onto his place as the squad gets to grips with Mel's methods and style of play.

“It was disappointing to sit out the Villa game," the Northern Ireland international added.

“You want to play every game but I was happy to support the lads and play my part if needed but I didn’t get on the pitch so I couldn’t affect things.

“It was nice to get back out there on Sunday and hopefully we will keep getting results and I can stay in the team.

“It has been hard work on the training pitch getting the ideas across and into the team so everybody is doing the same thing in unison.

“That takes practice and the more we do it in training the better we will become at it.

“It is a change in styles, as has been talked about, and it’s the same as when we played the other way – the more we practised it the more everyone knew their jobs, and every day we’re working on it, so hopefully we can get better and better.

“The meeting the other day was just about getting the understanding right.

“It’s hard when you’re on the training pitch sometimes to get everything across; but when you’re sitting down you can see things and talk about them so it’s easier.

“It was just a simple case of us getting his ideas on board and getting them clarified properly for ourselves so we knew what we are about and what we were doing.

“It certainly helped and it was positive from everybody’s point of view.

“It was the idea of the gaffer and the coaching staff, and it was nothing unusual really.

“It happens all the time."