Albion have won two of last three visits to Old Trafford
BEATING Arsenal may have lifted confidence – but it doesn’t bring in the next three points.
That was the warning from Gerry Francis as the Baggies began switching attention to this weekend’s return to Premier League action at Manchester United.
It’s another clash against one of the recognised elite clubs of the top flight, even if United are on the outside looking in on the top four at the moment.
The Baggies go there having already won under Tony Pulis – a 1-0 victory two seasons ago – and buoyed by their acclaimed performance in the 3-1 defeat of Arsenal last time out.
Francis, one of the architects of Albion’s rise up the Premier League this season, is one of Tony Pulis’s most trusted backroom figures in his role of first-team coach and helped plot the downfall of the Gunners.
“When you beat big teams it does give a bit of a lift all round,” he says. “But it doesn't give you the next three points.
“Winning gives everyone a lift and confidence is everything. Our performance against Arsenal with 23 per cent possession was exceptional. Our turnover and ability to break quickly and have 12 shots, eight on target, against their two, was excellent.
“Every week you look at the opposition's strengths and weaknesses because you have to. Many teams we play have got better squads, better talent, so we have to work very hard during the week to hopefully utilise the situation where we can pick up points. Every week is different, every team is different.
“A lot of work goes in, which is why you want the players there, because we do a lot of pattern of play work on the opposition.
"It worked brilliantly last Saturday, but you never know what's going to happen.”
Waiting this week for the internationals to return from their labours will be frustrating for Pulis and his coaches but it will not stop Albion approaching the contest with conviction that a positive result can be gained.
Francis is a huge believer in the notion that no team is more likely to be beat than one leaving the dressing room convinced it can’t win.
“Personally, I think every game, whether it's United or Manchester City, the points are there for you. We've proven over the years at Stoke, Palace and here at West Brom that you can certainly beat the top teams," he said.
“We beat Chelsea here and at Palace so I don't think that matters. You know they will have a fantastic squad and whatever 11 they put out it's going to be difficult – but you have to believe you can get something out of the game otherwise why are we there.
“If your players think it doesn't matter if we lose this, you're already defeated.
“You should always have that optimistic view, no matter who we're playing or where we're playing - even if it's away at Barcelona! Whether that’s a win or a draw is irrelevant because you don't know what will happen in the game. But you certainly need to go in there thinking you can get something out there.”