Club News

Slaven: Let’s embrace the pressure

Slaven Bilić wants his players to embrace the pressure which comes with being front-runners in the Sky Bet Championship promotion chase.

The Baggies sit at the summit on 53 points, one point clear of Leeds in second and seven clear of Brentford in third, heading into the weekend’s round of fixtures.

Albion take on Stoke City at The Hawthorns on Monday night (ko 8pm) knowing the gap could be tighter at kick-off depending on results elsewhere.

But the boss believes added pressure is no stranger to his side and insists it must be seen a big positive.

He said: “We are ready and concentrated on the game against Stoke on Monday. We want to get back to winning ways.

“It’s not a desperation to get back to winning ways. It’s more of a strong willingness.

“The game on Monday will not decide anything, make no mistake, but it is a very important game because we need the points and we want to stay at the top of league.

“Because the game is on a Monday, we’ve been able to load training and work on things.

“All the games will have been played before our game and that means there will be more pressure on us on Monday.

“But when you are in this position you have to cope with the pressure and you have to embrace it.

“It’s good pressure. It’s positive pressure. You’re on top and you want to stay on top. To stay on top, it needs something exceptional. It requires top concentration, top defending, top attacking and top quality. Everything.

“We have done it so many times. There’s no reason why we should stop it now.”

The Baggies have drawn four of their last five league games and haven’t won in the Championship since the 3-2 victory at Birmingham City on December 14, but Slaven says there’s still plenty of confidence in the group.

“The group is confident. The table helps with that. But of course, like in every team, 1% of confidence depends on how you start each game and what has happened in recent games.

“In the league we haven’t won for a few games now. We are not over confident which is maybe a good position to be in.

“We are confident enough to know that we have a good team and a couple of weeks of good training behind us which we haven’t had in recent times. We haven’t lost many games. We are a team that is very tough to beat.

“We are in a position that we have to win games and we want to win every game we play. That’s why we are not extremely happy, but you cannot say that we are not a confident team.

“We are not big-headed. We are not thinking like the win will come just because we are top of the table.

“We’re looking forward to Monday night’s game.”

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