Jake Livermore: West Brom won’t rest on their laurels
Skipper Jake Livermore has vowed Albion will enter every game as if they are 11 points behind the automatic promotion spots, rather than 11 ahead.
The Baggies have been in sensational form this season and sit second in the Championship table, with only goal difference keeping them behind Leeds.
But Slaven Bilic’s side were given a reminder at just how relentless the division is when they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Wigan on Wednesday.
Despite putting in what was their worst performance of the campaign at the DW Stadium, the Baggies still extended their advantage over third-placed Fulham.
But Livermore has vowed nobody is resting on their laurels when it comes to the promotion race – with the team now determined to get back to winning ways in the derby against Blues tomorrow.
“We’d much rather have it than not,” the captain said when asked about the gap to third place.
“This league is relentless though, in seven days that lead could be cut down.
“In many respects, it means absolutely nothing.
“We’ll start every game thinking we’re 11 points behind, that’s the way we’ll look at it.
“I’ll be doing all I can inside the dressing room to instil that in all of us. It’s a nice gap, but it’s nowhere near enough for what I want to try and install in this squad.”
Livermore has excelled for the Baggies this season with the central midfielder playing a slightly different role under Bilic.
Instead of being a midfielder screener, the 30-year-old has played a more box-to-box role in the middle of the park – with the former Tottenham man working relentlessly over the summer to improve his fitness.
And he feels that has been the secret to his impressive form.
“Pre-seasons in the past have been difficult, for one reason or another, for myself,” he continued.
“I’ve either been changing club or there’s been international duty, or there have been injuries.
“I had an injury towards the end of last season that ruled me out of the play-offs. That’s still hurting me now.
“All over the summer that was my main goal – to get fit, have a good pre-season and a good start to the season.
“I looked at everything. I looked at my diet, the club have helped me, and outside the club I’ve been doing all I can to get into the best shape possible.
“I’ve played a slightly different role under this manager to last year, so it’s a lot easier to get around the pitch now. I have that freedom to express myself and express my running power. It’s been a different role and I’m really enjoying it so far.”
Livermore believes playing alongside Romaine Sawyers has helped his form.
“When I first joined the club my main objective was to sit in front of the back four and to screen and smother,” he said.
“Now, my role has completely changed. I’m back and forth, I’m there to create space for my midfield partner Romaine.
“It’s a completely different task I’ve got but, touch wood, it’s working. It’s going well between the two of us and hopefully that continues.”
A lot of Albion’s success this term has been down to Matheus Pereira, Grady Diangana and Matt Phillips with the trio excelling in Bilic’s 4-2-3-1 system.
And Livermore admits the three players are a joy to play with – the skipper believing Kyle Edwards also deserves credit for the way he is challenging for a starting spot.
“They’re amazing, “Livermore said when asked about Albion’s attacking trio.
“It makes our life a lot easier, with the movement they possess up front. Little Kyle, he’s been fantastic every time he’s come on and pulled on the shirt. I think he’s another who is a bit of an unsung hero.
“Even in training he’s pushing the others every day.
“In my opinion, if he was at any other team in the league he’d be playing.
“We’re very fortunate to have four sticks of dynamite up there.
“It’s wonderful to look up and see the movement. The pace, power and quality they all possess is a joy to play alongside and to watch from afar.”