And defender says season starts now
GARETH McAuley says today is the day for one of his team-mates to be a hero and provide the spark Albion need to ignite their surge for survival.
The Baggies head to Swansea this afternoon (ko 3pm) knowing a win will take them to within a point of their South Wales hosts.
And McAuley, who is set to make his 100th start for the club at The Liberty Stadium, believes one win will be the catalyst for a good run of form.
“We’ve got ten games left and we’re trying to draw a line under the games that have already gone” said the Northern Ireland international.
“There are enough points to play for to make sure we’re safe and it’s in our own hands.
“We’re not in the best form but we need something to spark that.
“We need someone to be a hero to get us a goal that gets us a win.
“However we do that, once it’s happened, I think the mood will completely change.
“Confidence comes back and we can go on into the other remaining games believing we can get the points that will get us safe.
“We’ve been in a lot of games for long periods of time.
“We’ve got 13 draws and we’d lost more games this time last year than we have this year.
“It’s the draws that are killing us and we need to go that extra bit in the games to get ourselves three points.”
Today’s game kicks off a four-match run against bottom-half opposition with Hull, Cardiff and Norwich all set to take on the Baggies over the next three weeks.
And McAuley insists Albion’s players understand how important results in their upcoming fixtures could prove to be.
“We have the common goal of keeping the club in the Premier League,” he added.
“That is our only focus and the thing we are using as our focus in the remaining games.
“We’ve got a responsibility to ourselves, to the club, and to the supporters to do that.
“It is down to the players on the pitch to do what is required.
“We’ve been in this situation for a few months now alongside nine or ten other teams in the bottom half of the division.
“We’ve got a chance to turn it round.
“If we were sat here now with ten games to go and we were cast adrift then that would be different.
“We’re still in there, still fighting, and we have a common goal.
“We need to make sure we carry that through.
“I think this month will be pivotal.
“We’re not stupid and we know these are massive, massive games.
“We have to break the cycle and get a win from somewhere.
“We must also make sure we don’t lose against these teams.
“The sooner we can get a win under our belt the sooner we can start edging forward.
“We’re down to a ten-game season.
“That’s what it has come down to.
“There’s a clean slate and our season starts now.
“We made a mess of the first three quarters of it and now we have ten games to win four or five games.”
McAuley & co. will be backed by a sell-out following at The Liberty Stadium after Albion subsidised the cost of tickets for travelling fans – and the centre-half heaped praise on Baggies fans ahead of the game.
“To be fair, the fans have stuck with us throughout the season.
“We haven’t really given them that much to cheer about but they have to just keep believing.
“It’s a great gesture from the club to help subsidise the tickets and the fans have responded to that.
“We’ll have 2,000 fans there who will get right behind us.
“As a team and as a club we need to stick together.”