West Brom V Hull At The Hawthorns : LIVE

21 December 2013 07:55
West Brom V Hull - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Downing calls for Baggies reaction

West Brom's players have taken their share of responsibility for Steve Clarke's sacking and are ready to put things right, according to caretaker Keith Downing.

Last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Cardiff was the final straw for the West Brom board, who sacked Clarke before the day was out.

The loss took Albion's winless run to six games and left them just two points away from trouble in the Barclays Premier League, with another startling stat being that the club have won just three league games all season.

It is therefore clear that the fault does not just lie with with manager and Downing is confident the players he will lead against Hull on Saturday know they have some making up to do.

"They are a very honest bunch of players," he said.

"I have to say, I have been here for five years and every player is very senior and professional in what he does.

"They feel accountable and there's a responsibility for everyone when someone loses their job.

"It's important we galvanise ourselves and whatever decision comes from the top we need to make sure we control what we can."

Downing admitted there had been a real sense of shock in the wake of Clarke's axing, but added that things had settled down during the course of the week.

"It's been a difficult time, especially the first couple of days," he said.

"Things have started to settle but it's a big shock when anyone loses their job. But we have a game to focus on now."

It is an important game too, with Hull one of the sides West Brom are jostling for position with.

City have been hard to beat upon their return to the top flight and Albion could have wished for easier opponents.

That said, Downing is confident the team will be in the right frame of mind come kick-off.

"I've seen it this week (their response), the professionalism of what they're doing and their attitude," he said.

"We have to challenge each other and demand from each other, they have to raise their standards by five to 10 per cent.

"We have to focus on what we are doing. What I am trying to do is cover all bases, organise them and pick the team.

"There is a steely determination to put it right, but that has always been there. I've never seen anyone down tools. We have got to get out of this bad run."

The return to fitness of England goalkeeper Ben Foster will give Downing an extra selection problem, although he admitted to being happy at having a full squad to choose from.

Like with any club, he knows some players will now be out to prove a point with the old manager having perished.

"The slate is clean and we have 23/24 players who feel they want to be in the starting line-up," he said.

"I'm sure it will galvanise some of them and the new man will decide. (their futures). A fresh pair of eyes will stir the squad up.

"Our form is relegation form but we need to make sure we turn it around and get back to the middle of the table."

Hull boss Steve Bruce has condemned West Brom's decision to dismiss Clarke but fears the sacking could work against the Tigers.

Bruce's side lost at home to Crystal Palace when an interim manager was in position and that will be the case against Albion.

A victory for Hull, who have an impressive defensive record this season, could take them into the top half of the table and Bruce said Clarke was unlucky to have been fired.

Bruce said: "Steve Clarke took West Brom to eighth last year, a sign that he is a very good manager. He has a few bad results and suddenly it is him that pays for it, not anybody else.

"I feel for Steve because he has had some awful decisions go against him. I remember he was winning at Chelsea a few weeks ago and had an awful penalty given against them, then they were 2-0 up at Aston Villa and he's had some bad decisions go against them."

Bruce warned however that it was impossible to predict how West Brom would react.

He added: "Sometimes a different voice on the training ground has a response from the players, maybe they will get together and say 'it was harsh on the manager, let's put in a performance for him'.

"We played Crystal Palace when Tony Pulis was just in situ and they came up here and turned us over.

"Whether it is a negative or positive response we will have to wait and see but we know West Brom have got some very, very good players."

Bruce, meanwhile, has played down interest in Valenciennes' Ivory Coast defender Benjamin Angoua, but did not rule out a move for Celtic's Greek striker Georgios Samaras who is out of contract at the end of the season.

"I've no real aspiration to bring in a defender, I'm looking at the other end of the pitch - but so is half the world," added Bruce.

"You are only as good as your strikers, that's the way it is.

"Everyone is aware of the situation with (Samaras') contract and I am sure all of us have looked but he is a good player. But I have not expressed any real interest."

Robbie Brady is out with a groin injury. The Republic of Ireland midfielder is now doubtful for all of the Tigers' matches over the Christmas period after the injury has continued to cause problems.

Sone Aluko (Achilles) and Stephen Quinn (hamstring) are long-term absentees.

Source: DSG