Kyle Bartley senses sign of champions at West Brom
Albion have shown ‘the sign of champions’ by bouncing back from their mid-season wobble with three successive victories, according to defender Kyle Bartley.
Bartley went from villain to hero in their latest victory at Reading on Wednesday night – conceding a penalty to give the Royals the lead early on, but popping up with what turned out to be the winning goal in the second half at the Madejski Stadium.
That put the Baggies six points clear of the chasing pack – and proved perfect preparation for tomorrow’s lunchtime clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest at The Hawthorns.
“I had some making up to do,” admitted the 28-year-old, after giving away the spot-kick.
“It was obviously a mistake for the first goal, but I managed to keep my head.
“I have got great team-mates around me and I was determined to make up for it.
“Thankfully I managed to do that by getting the winning goal.”
Bartley felt he was shoved in the lead-up to the spot-kick, adding: “I got a nudge, I tried to exaggerate it a little bit and it’s hit my hand.
“I had to get it out my head early and focus on my game, so it was great to get that winner for the boys.”
Now though, the squad are looking to further cement their place at the top of the Championship after a sticky spell saw their one-time 14-point lead dwindle over the winter.
That has hopefully been consigned to history, with nine points from their last three league games.
“Yeah, obviously after the bad patch we had during December it was important for us to get back on track,” said the former Swansea and Leeds man.
“It’s three out of three. But it needs to be just the start for us. We have got another massive game coming up on Saturday – we need to keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard.”
And he puts much of their recent revival down to their will to win.
“I think if you look back to the start of the season, that resilience and that will to win was getting us through a lot of games,” Bartley said.
“We showed that again at Reading and Millwall. And I think that’s the sign of champions.”
The penalty against Reading was the only goal conceded in Albion’s last three games after shutouts against Luton and Millwall.
And Bartley put much of that down to the team’s work ethic from front to back when they are without the ball.
“I think that starts from the front,” he said. “Those boys are the front are absolutely working their socks off and that makes it a lot easier for us boys at the back.
“We have to keep doing what we are doing. Keep humble, keep working hard and go again on Saturday.”
He admitted there were some frank words exchanged in the dressing room as the squad themselves looked to put their bad run right.
“We spoke, we spoke as men about taking more responsibility as individuals,” said Bartley.
“I think a lot of the times when you concede it’s the mindset that has let you down. We cleared the air with a few things that I’ll keep inside the dressing room. And since, touch wood, it’s been going well.”
Now, the attentions turns to tomorrow’s clash with an early kick-off affording little time to recover after a Wednesday night clash.
“It’s another game, we will keep focused,” added the big centre-half. “We will recover. The boss will come up with his game plan and we will go into it full of confidence but knowing it’s another massive game to get three points.”