Bryan Robson has told his West Brom players: "The hard luck stories have got to stop."
Albion have turned in a string of encouraging performances in recent weeks against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham with Robson's only disappointment being with the first-half showing against Liverpool last weekend.
But they have failed to turn their form into a tangible reward and a return of just one point from the last seven games - plus the revitalised displays of Birmingham and Portsmouth - has seen them slip into the bottom three.
Albion will go into Sunday's noon derby clash at Aston Villa with Robson wanting his side to be more clinical in front of goal but also to cut out the soft goals they have been conceding.
Robson said: "The pressure has always been on us and it is still on the other teams. We've lost the advantage we had but there is still a long way to go in the season and what we've got to concentrate on is our own performances.
"We've got to start winning games. For the last two months we haven't picked up enough points to put more pressure on Portsmouth and Birmingham.
"Everyone keeps saying we've been a bit unlucky because the performances have been good but the fact of the matter is we have got to be more ruthless.
"Over the next six games our performance levels have got to be up to where they have been but we have got to be more clinical in front of goal and also stop giving away soft goals which we have done in four or five of the last six or seven games.
"The hard luck stories have got to stop. You can't keep saying you are unlucky.
"You make your own luck in this game and sometimes missing an easy chance is not unlucky. That's bad play and it's the same as giving a soft goal away. That's bad play.
"We have got to make sure that when we are performing well, our concentration levels are there for 90 minutes."
Villa are short of confidence after winning only one of their last seven games and Robson will be looking to exploit a defence which was breached five times by Arsenal last weekend.
He said: "Villa have been conceding goals. There is no getting away from that. They kept a clean sheet against Fulham but I've watched that video and Fulham missed a fair few chances.
"Arsenal and Everton scored goals against them. If that is an area for us to exploit, then hopefully my forwards can do that for us on Sunday."
The ammunition for the Baggies forwards could be supplied by Zoltan Gera who impressed as a second-half substitute against Liverpool after recovering from his long term pelvic problem.
Robson said: "Zoltan has come through training really well. He has looked nice and bright all week. He hasn't had any problems with his pelvis or his back. For 45 minutes he did look a real threat against Liverpool.
"He put some great crosses in and had a couple of decent efforts himself on target so he is pushing for a first team place."
Central defender Steve Watson (hamstring) and striker Nathan Ellington (foot) are rated as 50-50 to be fit to face David O'Leary's side and will have fitness tests on today.