Liam Ridgewell admits Albion could become victims of their own success as they head for Everton tomorrow looking to kick-start their season.
The Baggies travel to Goodison Park looking to bounce back from opening-day defeat to Southampton and get their mission to match last season’s eighth-place finish up and running.
But Ridgewell believes the success of the last three seasons, which have yielded 11th, 10th and eighth-places in the Premier League, have piled inevitable extra pressure on Steve Clarke’s side.
It is an expectation that he insists, however, they are ready to embrace.
“There is more expectation on us and we’ve put it on ourselves,” he said.
“We did so well last season and we’re big and old enough to take that expectation and make sure we do it again this season.
“I think maybe other teams might look at us a bit more and look on Pro-Zone a little bit more at what we do but we’ve got to look past that and make sure we keep playing the way we play.
“We’ve just got to make sure we keep doing what we’re doing.
“I think the gaffer is very well equipped to deal with it.
“He’s been at some big clubs and coached some big players and I’m sure he’s had bigger pressure than he’s under now at Chelsea and Liverpool.
“He doesn’t deviate from what he wants us to do, so that’s a good thing.
“It will be a big job to improve on last season, but I wouldn’t say it was impossible. That’s what we’re striving for.
“We want to make sure the club keeps stepping on and get better each season.
“I’m sure every player and the gaffer have their own ambitions to move the club on.”
The first step in building a successful campaign will be responding to the opening-day setback, which saw the Saints win a disappointing game through a 90th-minute Rickie Lambert penalty.
“We weren’t surprised at how well Southampton came out on Saturday because we know they’re such a good team,” said Ridgewell.
“I think we were maybe a little bit surprised at how we performed and we’ve got to put that right.
“It was hard to take but sometimes you don’t get the rub of the green or the decisions but that’s just football and sometimes you have to move past it.”
Tomorrow’s clash will bring Ridgewell face to face with one of the best left-backs in the country in Everton and England man Leighton Baines, who remains a target for Manchester United in this transfer window.
Baines has emerged as a prime example of a modern-day, attacking full-back.
“I look at him a lot,” said Ridgewell. “He’s a great left-back and is someone for me to look at and duplicate what he does in my game.”
Roberto Martinez will take charge of his first home game tomorrow, and Ridgewell said: “He had a more passing style at Wigan. We’ll have to wait and see what he tries.
“But we won’t be worrying about what they’re doing. We have to concentrate on what we’ve got to do and do well in the game.”