Slaven: Embrace the pressure

Slaven Bilic has urged his players to embrace the pressure of the Sky Bet Championship promotion challenge as they hunt down their first win of the restart on Wednesday.

The Baggies head for Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough home for another behind-closed-doors test following a return to action that has registered one point from the first two games.

Albion are still in a strong position to carry forward their challenge for a top-two position but Bilic – and the players – openly admit they were disappointed by a performance at Brentford on Friday which fell below their expectations.

Slav staged a Monday morning meet with the squad to talk through the challenge ahead and urged them to take a grip on their own destiny.

“This remains no time to panic or be alarmed,” he says. 

“But it is also not a time to say ‘everything’s cool’. There will be pressure and the players have got to cope with that. They should not be afraid of it. They should turn it into a positive.

“Will it be easy? Of course not. Is it difficult? Of course it is. We should not have a problem admitting that. But one way they can handle the pressure best is by giving maximum effort and that something extra that you need when you are chasing something big.

“And I must stress that the boys have trained great. They have been brilliant in that respect and that is one of the reasons why I have a big belief we will finish strongly.”

Slaven confirms that his squad “have a couple of niggles” to check on before deciding on a line-up to face a Wednesday team which registered an impressive victory at Bristol City in the weekend round of fixtures.

And the continuing competitiveness of the Championship has come as no surprise.

He added: “Every game I see, there has been no change to how competitive every team has been.

“There was a lot of talk about certain clubs not having much to play for and perhaps not being at the top of their game.

“But this is not true. Every opponent is competitive. Sheffield Wednesday may have had negative momentum before the break but they have come back and have now got positive momentum.

“We have to be ready for as difficult a game as any.”

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