Tony Mowbray insists Tuesday night’s Carling Cup humiliation at Hartlepool United will have no bearing on West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League prospects this season.
Albion were within three minutes of losing in normal time at Victoria Park, a fate they narrowly avoided when Robert Koren snatched an equaliser, only to concede two goals in another three minutes in extra time.
That has left them with three defeats from as many games and needing a quick reversal of fortunes in Saturday’s crucial clash with Gary Megson’s Bolton Wanderers.
However, taciturn as ever, Mowbray maintains his faith and the team’s prospects have not been dented by losses to Arsenal, Everton and this week’s League One opponents.
“I don’t think Tuesday night was damaging at all,” he said. “We dominated the football match on Saturday and a bit of sloppiness cost us a goal – as it did on Tuesday.
“Generally, I’m delighted with our form in the Premier League. If we can keep that form up, we’ll do very, very well this year. Over 38 games we’ll be fine if our performance levels stay the same.”
Mowbray also defended his team selection which saw six changes to the side beaten by Everton three days earlier. It did, however, still contain club record signing Borja Valero, regular centre-backs Leon Barnett and Abdoulaye Meite and skipper Jonathan Greening.
“Disappointment is the overriding feeling,” added Mowbray. “Ultimately, we weren’t bright enough to win it on the night. We’ve got a squad of Premier League footballers and you’ve got to trust them sometimes.
“Our bread and butter is the Premier League and I tried to save one or two players for Saturday. But that was a full-strength side out there.
“Hartlepool were playing a Premier League side so there was always going to be that extra edge to their game and they seemed to get to the drop-downs first.
“We hit the bar three times and had a stonewall penalty turned down. But good luck to Hartlepool. They probably deserved it on the night. I don’t rip into players.
“They’ve got to know and understand what the levels are to play at our football club. We’ve just got to get on with it.”
There was also further concern over Koren who injured his knee and is now a doubt for the trip to Reebok Stadium for a fixture infused with significance, not only because of the clubs’ respective standings but also because of Megson’s past.
The Bolton manager was in charge at The Hawthorns for more than four years and led the club to two promotions before his relationship with Jeremy Peace became unworkable.