When Kevin Phillips banged in one of the best hat-tricks you're ever likely to see at Portman Road seven weeks ago, it would have been hard to imagine anything other than West Bromwich Albion side charging away at the top of the table.

It did not matter who was picking the team — Nigel Pearson that day against Ipswich Town, Craig Shakespeare on the Tuesday night at Crystal Palace, Tony Mowbray the following Sunday against Wolverhampton Wanderers — all rampant Albion seemingly had to do was turn up and win.

But, slowly, the astonishing purple patch that followed Bryan Robson's sacking has faded to more of a light mauve, largely down to missing too many chances.

Diomansy Kamara — unstoppable a month ago — has stopped scoring. And Phillips' return following his calf injury has been unable to bring the Baggies back to life. Phillips has not scored in four games since being recalled to the starting line-up. And, ahead of tomorrow's meeting with Derby County, and in the wake of two miserable away performances, he is hopeful that being back at The Hawthorns has the right effect.

After starting his reign with a memorable Black Country derby win over Wolves, new Albion boss Mowbray has seen his team win just once in seven games. But that one win — and a top quality performance too — came in the Baggies' last home game against Burnley, and, at a time of much off-field debate among their notoriously hard to please fans, a little bit of home comfort can ease the current strain.

"The flak we've had has been fully justified," Phillips said. "It's been poor. And it's up to the experienced players in the team like myself to come to the fore and prove why we've been brought here.

"To go to Sheffield Wednesday with the squad we've got and only create one chance shows how bad confidence is.

"I thrive on scoring goals and, although I got injured at Ipswich, I'm disappointed I've not scored in the four games since I've been back. But we've got too much quality in this squad for this to linger on too long. And it's not all doom and gloom.

"We've got fixtures coming up that we think we can win, which would push us right back up there going into the Christmas period. And having four out of six at home can certainly help.

"But we've just got to remember what John Gregory said after we played QPR here that it would be an injustice to our supporters if we didn't get promoted. Maybe we've got to remember that and take a little bit of it on board.

"I've been through this sort of situation many times in my career, and it gets even more frustrating. But, although I'd like to be up there in the top two, coming in on a Monday after a great result on the Saturday, you know it's not always going to be that easy

"If you think about it too much you can get further and further into a rut. We have to think about what we've done wrong and go back to doing things simple. I know it's an old cliche, but we have to get back to basics and do the little things right. That's what teams I've been involved with have done before to get themselves out of a bad run.

"Maybe we've looked at our squad when we've lined up against other teams and thought we haven't got to perform to our maximum to win.

"We know it can't continue as we've got as good a squad as any in the league, but we've got to earn that right to be in the top two by working hard, grinding out results and building confidence back up again.

"And basically we owe ourselves a performance and the supporters who came in their hundreds to Hillsborough on Tuesday night and came back very disappointed."