The heat might be rising at The Hawthorns but easily the coolest man at West Bromwich Albion these days is Bryan Robson.

His composed, stoical personality is no act but it can't disguise a fiercely competitive edge burning brightly within.

With a derby of gargantuan proportions looming on the horizon against Aston Villa on Sunday, the manager is gravely aware of the importance of this fixture.

A run of one point from six games, with a match at Arsenal on the agenda following the journey to Villa Park, has left Albion able to feel the breath of the chasing pack on their necks.

While they aren't yet drinking in the last chance saloon the barman is preparing for closing time. Unless results improve the cold hard facts are that Albion will be relegated.

However, Robson is refusing to deviate from his chosen path and is focused solely on Albion's survival. He is stead-fast in his belief that they will survive and is disregarding any of the peripherals out of his control.

He said yesterday: "I will watch the game between Birmingham and Bolton [last night] but only because we play Bolton at home in a few games' time.

"It wasn't because of what Birmingham are doing in the league. I really have got myself focused because I can only prepare my players and my team for the job they have got to do in the next game. "There's no point me sitting and watching Birmingham and Portsmouth and worrying about what they are doing in their games. I can't do anything about that. "I know I can affect my play-ers and my team and that is why I try to keep focused in that manner."

While Robson likes to transmit an aura of calm to his players he has not shielded them from the sever-ity of their situation.

A victory against Villa would pull them to within five points of David O'Leary's men and cause a few butterflies at Villa Park. Robson knows a victory is the only way they are going to increase their options of avoiding the drop.

He said: "Both Birmingham and ourselves have got Villa at Villa Park and we have got to beat them to bring them into it. It's as simple as that.

"If we do beat them, then Villa are back into the equation. People always say that there is one team who drop back into it from a higher position so we have got to do our utmost to make sure it's Villa.

"Their recent results give us a bit of a hope and, mathematically, they can be pulled back into it."

Perversely, Robson is hoping that Albion's predicament will inspire his team to greater heights.

Sitting outside the comfort zone for so long may have lulled them into a false sense of security whereas last year's scenario left them in a win-or-bust situation.

Robson said: "Results have gone for us over a couple of months until just recently, with Portsmouth starting to win games.

"Maybe our lads have become relaxed and are thinking 'we don't have to perform ourselves. We've not picked up anywhere near enough points as we should have done over the last couple of months.

"If we had done then we would have been in a comfortable position but everyone is right next to us and we are going to have to start performing. Maybe the players will raise themselves and pick up wins. That is what we really need at this stage.

"I don't know whether the results prior to the Liverpool game meant we took a bit of nervousness and anxiety into our fixture. All I will remind our players is that, last season, we had quite a lot of games which were exactly the same.

"Other teams had put pressure on us but the lads went out and performed. Except for Arsenal at Highbury, we have got all the big teams out of the way and our last five fixtures have been very tough. We are over that now, but we need results."