And boss says fans' forum has given him boost
PEPE Mel has warned his players they must stop handing the initiative to their opponents on a plate ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash with survival rivals Cardiff (ko 3pm).
The Baggies have found themselves at least a goal down at half-time in each of their last seven games – and have not scored before the break in any of those matches.
Stirring second-half performances have mustered a victory at Swansea and home draws with Liverpool, Chelsea and Fulham.
But Mel’s focus in training this week has been on trying to ensure his troops put themselves in the driving seat from kick-off against the Bluebirds.
“We’ve been looking at the errors from the Hull game,” said the Albion chief.
“If you look at the video it shows within two seconds of kick-off we lost the ball.
“The way we’re approaching the game tomorrow is to be defensively strong.
“It’s been quite a long time since West Brom have kept a clean sheet.
“We’ve been conceding some very early goals and that means we have to put a lot of effort in.
“In a lot of the games at home we have gone in at half-time 1-0 down and that means we need to put in extra effort.
“That’s why we have highlighted the kick-off against Hull.
“You simply cannot lose the ball in the first moments of the game – it was a counter-attack and a cross, which nearly produced a goal.
“This is exactly why we are working hard to make sure this does not happen.
“We’re very capable of creating scoring opportunities and we’re convinced, if we don’t concede, we’ll be able to win the game.
“It’s obvious if we concede fewer goals we’ll have greater opportunity because we’re a team from midfield going forward that create opportunities and are successful in that.”
Mel enjoyed a ‘Curry and a Pint’ night with around 200 fans at The Hawthorns on Wednesday.
And he is determined to send them home happy on Saturday afternoon.
“The fans have been behind us all the time,” he added.
“The other night we had a meal at the club and many people attended this.
“They’re all excited by the prospect of us going on and being successful.
“They want to know about the future and what the spirit is like within the camp.
“They also trust my work so for me it is a real responsibility.”
He quipped: “I particularly liked the curry but I’m more of a wine man when drinking with my meal.
“But the main thing is this meeting gave me an injection of enthusiasm.
“I’m indebted to them, they’ve given me an awful lot and I still haven’t delivered anything.
“My biggest concern is to ensure everyone goes home happy from the Cardiff game.”