Albion boss Steve Clarke today hailed Jonas Olsson’s return to form – but insisted a “back to basics” approach is behind his team’s defensive improvements.
The Baggies head coach has seen his side concede just six goals in eight games so far this season after shipping 14 in their final six games of the last campaign.
And, while he welcomed Olsson’s return to top form, Clarke believes his whole side deserve credit for tightening up. “We didn’t defend well towards the end of last season,” he admitted.
"We didn’t have the balance right.
“We scored a few but we conceded too many and this year, at the start of the season, the defence has been better. In pre-season we just focused on getting back to basics.
“Last season, when we had a good start, we built everything on a solid foundation. All the top teams’ success is always based on a solid foundation.
“If you’re solid and you don’t give too many goals away then you always give yourself the opportunity to create in games. If we give ourselves the opportunity, we have shown in recent matches that we can score goals.”
OIsson admitted in the summer that his form dipped at the end of last season and revealed ongoing Achilles problems had contributed.
But Clarke refused to blame the Sweden international for the Baggies’ previous defensive problems.
“Jonas has been a big player for the club for a number of years and last season was no exception,” said Clarke.
“His performances did tail off towards the end of last season, but it wasn’t only Jonas.
“Collectively we didn’t defend well at the end of last season.
“Jonas is a man and that’s why he stepped forward and said he would take responsibility for some of those performances and results.
“But rather than bringing out individuals, it’s about the team.
“The team now is defending well, and Jonas is a big part of that team.”