James Morrison hopes chairman Jeremy Peace will give Steve Clarke the backing to ensure West Bromwich Albion’s excellent start to the season does not fizzle out in the New Year.
Scotland international Morrison has played his part in confounding the pre-season predictions that new head coach Clarke would struggle to keep Albion in the Premier League after agreeing to replace Roy Hodgson at the Hawthorns.
Despite taking just one point from their last four league matches, Albion remain in sixth-place in the table ahead of the crucial Christmas and New Year schedule and Morrison would love to see new additions to the squad when the January transfer window opens to help the club sustain their surprise bid for Europa League qualification.
“I don’t know whether there will be new players in January,” Morrison said. “We seem to have a good squad, but there will be people going to the African Cup of Nations, so we might need one or two new players.”
Albion will lose Youssouf Mulumbu and Peter Odemwingie, who will be required by DR Congo and Nigeria respectively for the African Nations Cup. The club have traditionally struggled to handle the festive period under previous managers, hampering their ambitions of regularly breaking into the top ten in the Premier League.
Morrison is aware of the problems created by the crammed fixture list having suffered under previous managers Tony Mowbray, Roberto Di Matteo and Hodgson and feels it is time the squad coped better with the demands.
“We know what it is like,” he said. “The players have been here long enough to know what the Christmas period is like.
“It can set you up for the season and we've struggled in the past at this time so we've got to be on the ball and keep pushing forward. I don’t know why we have had problems. Under Roberto we struggled, under Tony we struggled, had a little blip with Roy. It seems then that we kick on in January. We've got players that have been here long enough to know what it takes.”
Albion at least ended a run of three successive defeats with their point against West Ham United on Sunday and Morrison wants to build on that when Norwich visit the Hawthorns on Saturday, adding: “They are in great form, but we've got to stop that because once we were on a run like that and knew how confident we were.
“We knew there was going to be a sticky patch at some time in the season. You can't win every game but we want to keep our home form going and we did that with a point against West Ham. In recent games, we might have lost that.”