West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray will leave his strikers to their own devices in a bid to find their goal-scoring touch in the Premier League.
His front men have scored only one goal from open play in nine games this season so the Baggies boss could do with them stumbling across an answer or, better still, finding a cure before they run out against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Tuesday night.
Only Fulham in the top flight have scored fewer goals than Albion’s seven after the 3-0 defeat at home to Hull City. Mowbray said: “The finer details are not quite clicking for us at the moment but once we get things working in critical areas of the pitch we’ll be fine.
“Between the penalty boxes, I know I enjoyed watching us play football at the weekend. We are a good team and we play in a way that is compatible to the division and I think we can cope with its demands with no problem - but you have to score when the opportunities come along.
“We can’t afford to keep missing the opportunities that come our way. On Saturday, Hull took theirs; on another day, we could have won the game given the chances we had but now we have to brush ourselves down and get on with the next challenge.”
That challenge is Newcastle United: it is a daunting but welcome one, according to Mowbray. After the disappointment of Hull, the Albion manager says having a game only three days later is more of a help than a hindrance.
And, on paper, playing a side in the bottom three also has its benefits, although Mowbray was quick to concede that the Magpies’ place in the relegation zone is a false indication of their players’ ability.
He said: “It’s a big adventure for us. Newcastle United is a great arena, it’s a great stadium.
“They will be hurting as well, obviously, because they lost a big game at the weekend [2-1 to derby rivals Sunderland] and they are still in the bottom three, so we know they will be looking to get their season going, even though results have changed recently since Joe Kinnear’s come in as caretaker manager.
“I was at the game last Monday [when they drew 2-2 with Manchester City] and they were very supportive of their team.
“They had a man sent off and they were 1-0 down from a penalty and yet somehow the crowd managed to lift their team and those ten men ground out a 2-2 draw against a team who have just spent £32 million on a centre-forward [Robinho].
“The fans have a big impact and a big part to play in their season this year. Our test is to go there to try to quieten them down and show them what a good team we can be on our day.
“They have some very talented players and it will only be a matter of time before they get themselves going.
“Their supporters won’t be happy seeing their team where it is but I would be surprised to see them down there at the end of the season given the money they have spent and the players they have that have proven themselves in the top flight.”
Albion will seek comfort in having won in the North-East already this season, at Middlesbrough. The Baggies followed that with a good home win against Fulham - and celebrated consecutive clean sheets - but since then they have conceded a glut of goals and failed to score.
“Our defending has generally been good and I haven’t felt vulnerable - but seven goals in two games doesn’t suggest that’s the case,” Mowbray said.
“The other area of the pitch is one that the strikers are desperate to put right but, in a strange way, the more desperate you are the more you start to snatch at chances.
“I wouldn’t be the first manager to hope one goes in off someone’s backside. Hopefully, then they will be off and running.
“The method [to get it right] is the repetition of good habits. They have to practise every day, even away from the general training sessions. The best strikers are those with the best technique. That is what guides them through when a chance falls to them.”