West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray is certainly not throwing in the towel on his side’s Premier League survival bid, despite their increasingly desperate position, but he has revealed he is already planning for the worst.
Albion’s 2-2 draw at Portsmouth left them seven points adrift of safety with just six games remaining and while it is not yet mathematically certain they will be relegated, the trap door to the Championship is certainly primed.
If they go down, it will be Albion’s third relegation from the Premier League in six seasons and will add weight to their tag of a yo-yo side.
Mowbray has already begun to talk of another promotion push if relegation is confirmed and believes his side will be strong enough to bounce straight back and would then make a better fist of competing in the top flight.
“If we go down we will be strong next year,” Mowbray said.
“If we keep people like Jonathan Greening, Robert Koren, James Morrison, Marc-Antoine Fortuné and Jonas Olsson, who competed well against a strong Portsmouth team, I believe we would be strong in the Championship.
“Hopefully we would do the same as we did last year and play our way out of the Championship. The disappointment is that if we drop out of this league we are going to lose a little bit of the progress we’ve made. Whereas I feel if we could stay in this league it would be so much better next year because we would be able to add one or two quality players and go to places like Portsmouth and let them know they’re in a real match.”
The draw at Fratton Park stretched Albion’s winless sequence to 12 games and there would have to be a dramatic turn around in their form if they are to pick up the victories required to claw back the rest of the pack.
However, Mowbray believes his side proved against Pompey that they still have plenty of fight in them and they can take renewed confidence to Manchester City on Sunday.
“We are seven points behind so if we win three of our six games, will Newcastle and Sunderland win another one?” said Mowbray.
“It would have been nice to win at Portsmouth and then go to Manchester City believing we could win to make it more interesting, but it wasn’t to be.
“We are where we are and have been for a long time. I just keep asking the players to focus on the next fixture, try to be very positive and win the match. The fans deserve a team playing for them right until the death, regardless of our destination this season. I think they got that [at Portsmouth]. They saw a team wholeheartedly behind the cause.”