Charlie Austin: Winning is all that matters
Penalty king Charlie Austin believes Albion learnt an important lesson during their victory at Sheffield Wednesday – winning is all that matters.
Following uninspiring displays against both Blues and Brentford, the Baggies continued to look disjointed throughout the opening half-hour at Hillsborough.
But they were a side transformed after Austin netted a 37th-minute penalty – with Matheus Pereira going onto net a brace in a second half they dominated.
And with the Baggies five points clear in the automatic promotion slots with just six games to go, Austin believes the game in Sheffield was a reminder to the squad winning is all that matters.
“We won the game but I think we learnt as a group, as a team and as men that we don’t have to play great to win games of football," the striker said.
“We don’t need two halves of football to be unbelievable – we have just got to win.
“We have just got to win games of football and we did that.
“In the first half we needed a bit of luck – we got the penalty and it settled some nerves for us.
“And then in the second half, we stamped our authority on the game and killed them off.”
Austin stood over the penalty knowing full well it could have a huge say in the race for promotion.
But he says blocking out that pressure was key to calmly tucking the ball away.
“I am a centre forward, I’m confident and I back my ability,” Austin continued.
“You don’t allow yourself to think about what is going on. The pressure is there but you have to block that out.
“I am there to take penalties, put performances in for the team and score goals.
“Ultimately I put the ball in the back of the net – that’s my job."
Austin got the nod to start at Hillsborough having had to play second-fiddle to Hal Robson-Kanu in the months prior to lockdown.
But while he always wants to play, the 30-year-old said he did everything he could to back up his fellow frontman - with Austin describing Robson-Kanu's performances this season as "incredible."
"When I first arrived, I arrived with no pre-season," he continued.
"I’m not using that as an excuse. I played the games and we were winning games of football.
"But I wasn’t scoring goals and I’m a goalscorer – if I don’t score goals and I play well, okay, but I am on the pitch to score goals.
"Then all of a sudden, the manager changed it which is absolutely fine.
"And Hal came in and was faultless for three or four months. He scored goals, unbelievable performances and all I could do was back up from the bench and on the training ground.
"What Hal was doing was incredible - the performances he was putting in for the team.
"And it was nice to watch and nice to play a part in it. Me and Hal have got a great relationship - there is no animosity there at all."
Austin knows what it takes to win promotion to the Premier League having gone up with QPR in 2014.
He said that year, the experience the Hoops had in their squad was crucial. And he can see that same nous at Albion.
“That is what you are in football for, for these big moments,” Austin added.
“You have got to grab it and go and do your stuff. You have to thrive on it. I learnt that at QPR.
“There was a time when a group of older professionals – about six or seven – grabbed the whole group and dragged us over the line.
“That is what we need to do now.
“We have got individuals in that dressing room with years and years of experience.
“I think our quality will tell but I think our experience will kick in for sure.”