Mel: Four points should see us safe
Published 24/04/2014 | 17:12
West Brom boss Pepe Mel has predicted ahead of his side's "final" against West Ham at The Hawthorns this weekend that Albion will need four more points to guarantee their Barclays Premier League survival this season.
The Baggies have three top-flight fixtures left to play after Saturday's, which they head into in 16th place with 33 points.
They are three points clear of the relegation zone and have a game in hand over the three sides directly below them.
And Mel, who arrived in English football as West Brom's head coach in January, said at his preview press conference on Thursday: "This was the idea that I had of the Premier League - that it is the most competitive league in the world.
"Any team is capable of beating any other team - look at (bottom side) Sunderland, who drew at Manchester City and then won at Chelsea.
"What we really have clear is that we need four points from the last four games.
"If we consider that West Ham (who are 12th) are safe with 37 - that's also what we need.
"Last year 36 was actually the cut-off point. I think 37 will be enough to keep us up."
While talking about the big picture, Mel has made it clear the focus for the time being within the West Brom camp must be solely on the West Ham game.
And it is a contest he is feeling optimistic about, with his side having shown some encouraging signs of late.
Monday's 3-1 loss at Manchester City was preceded by a five-game sequence in which Albion won twice and were only beaten once.
The Spaniard said: "Saturday is the final. There is only one match.
"We've played under pressure recently in games against Cardiff (a 3-3 draw), Norwich (a 1-0 win) and Tottenham (another 3-3 draw), and in these three games we've done very well.
"In the last six we've won two and drawn two, so I believe we are ready.
"The City game really was very difficult, particularly with us being 2-0 down inside 10 minutes.
"But some of the performances we have seen recently are those we need to see in order to keep ourselves up."
Although confident about his team's prospects on Saturday, Mel does admit he is worried about the potential absence of centre-back Gareth McAuley, particularly given that West Ham are set to have the physicality of Andy Carroll in their attack.
McAuley missed the City contest due to a calf problem he sustained in training and Mel reported the situation did "not look positive" on Thursday.
Additional to that, Albion will definitely be without another defender in Liam Ridgewell, who limped off towards the end of the match at the Etihad Stadium due to a knee problem and could miss the next two games.
Mel said: "The player at the moment who is most worrying me is Gareth McAuley.
"He hasn't actually trained since his injury.
"Tomorrow, he will be subject to tests but it really doesn't look positive - particularly because West Ham are a very strong side, with Andy Carroll.
"It's absolutely certain that Ridgewell won't play in this game - he could well be out of the next two games."
In response to the news of Ridgewell's setback, some shocking messages were this week posted on West Brom's official Facebook page wishing a more severe or even permanent injury on the 29-year-old, with reference made to the standard of his performances.
The offending comments have since been removed by the club, while Mel, when asked about the matter, said: "Ridgewell has played well and has been performing at a good level.
"I think the fans have shown an awful lot of kindness towards the team and maximum respect to the players.
"I think the true fans will be there on Saturday and showing their support for the players."