Zoltan Gera believes West Bromwich Albion’s season is heading for a Christmas crossroads, beginning with Sunday’s Hawthorns clash against West Ham.
The Baggies became the talk of the Premier League with a four-game winning run which took them to a highest- ever third place in the rebranded top flight.
But three successive defeats have raised question marks about the team’s ability to maintain a challenge in the Premier League’s top echelons.
Head coach Steve Clarke has spoken about the fixture schedule either side of Christmas deciding whether Albion have “a good season or a really good season” – and it is point Gera admitted the players have taken on board.
“I agree with him,” said the ever-popular Hungarian. “This next five to seven games we will see if we are fighting against relegation or fighting for a good position. We understand what he means. It is up to us.
“I think when you start the season well people get questions about whether you’re going for Europe. But we always need to stay realistic. We just want to be a stable team in the Premier League.
“When we’ve got that we want to go higher. As a club, we want to go higher and achieve more and more. This is our target. We didn’t say we want to play in Europe – we just want to get further and further as we’ve done over the last two seasons.
“If we can go higher then everyone will be happy.”
Gera believes the defeats which have followed at Swansea, Stoke and Arsenal were brought about by nothing which the Baggies cannot fix as they prepare for phase one of the fixture rush – the Hammers and then Norwich City at home followed by a Boxing Day trip to QPR.
All will be seen as potentially productive games for Clarke’s side and Gera said: “I’m sure the players have confidence about what we’ve done so far this season.
“It’s a big game for us. Every game is big; there is no easy game in the Premier League.
“West Ham are another team that are difficult to play against because they are so physical.”