Goalscorer Roman Bednar paid tribute to West Bromwich Albion’s defenders after his match-winning strike against Fulham.
The win over the Cottagers was the Baggies’ second successive victory and, more significantly, their third clean sheet in four games. Whether they can extend either of those runs against Manchester United at Old Trafford on October 18 remains to be seen – but facing the European champions in their own back yard is a different proposition from beating some of the lesser lights of the Premier League, which the Baggies have proved more than capable of doing.
Albion, who have picked up nine points from a possible 12, are not displaying the sort of form pertaining to a relegation struggle.
“It’s a fantastic start for us, it’s the start we wanted and the points are coming,” said Bednar. “The defence is unbelievable at the moment. They are so strong.
“I’ve said in the past that teams have scored cheap and stupid goals against us but now you look at people like Zuiverloon and the others and they’re great – we have to say ‘thank you guys’.
“Fulham were the better side in the first-half but in the second half we were much better.
“Now we’re looking forward to playing Manchester United. We will enjoy the game and see if we can take the points.
“We can go there with no pressure and if we get anything, great.
“Last season in the Championship, there were some decent teams, both Hull City and Stoke City beat us so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are all doing okay. We work hard, we have decent players and I’ve never thought we will go down.
“People may say that but we have to prove them wrong.”
By now Albion should be used to proving their critics wrong and even though longevity will prove the ultimate judge, those dissenters who had Tony Mowbray’s side as certainties for relegation are proving ill-informed.
Once it became clear that Albion’s football was more than good enough to compete, the focus turned towards a lack of firepower and then a susceptibility from set pieces.
While the Baggies have not hit the net with the frequency they would like so far this season, they have still scored only one league goal fewer than Manchester United and more than Tottenham, Newcastle United and several others.
Likewise, despite some reservations lingering defensively this is a vastly improving unit, which is what has helped the club to its best ever start to a Premier League season.
“All we need to do is to keep clean sheets and just get a goal per game,” added Bednar.
“We can still score more goals – we have been unlucky, but it’s hard at this level.
“Goals are there in the team; our midfielders can score goals – [James Morrison] Mozza’s had a few and was unlucky with a header [against Fulham] but we are still getting the chances.
“We have to be ready for them, be hungry and keep working hard.”
Hard work brings its own rewards, as Bednar will testify. The Czech striker has swapped his Vauxhall Astra of last season for a brand new Audi and is in the process of upgrading his flat in Lichfield for a house in Sutton Coldfield.
And the 25-year-old has not found the protracted house-buying process in this country to his liking. He said: “My fiancee and I have bought a place and we’re waiting to move in.
“We agreed the price and we thought we could move in pretty quickly because, in the Czech Republic, things are very different.
“Over there, if you buy a house you can move in two weeks later but here it’s something like two months and I don’t understand why.”