Brunt: Boss barbs inspired end of drought
West Bromwich Albion skipper Chris Brunt has revealed that some friendly chivvying from his manager preceded the end of his personal goal drought in the victory over bottom club QPR.
The Northern Ireland international came up with a long-range beauty in the 2-1 victory at Loftus Road on Boxing Day - the first time he had scored since the 2-2 draw at Bolton at the end of last season.
His absence from the scoresheet is all the more surprising as he is renowned for the power of his shooting. And that point was clearly not lost on head coach Steve Clarke.
"It has been a frustrating season for me as I have been in and out of the team with injuries," Brunt said. "I have had a few games recently but a goal has been a long time coming and I'm delighted to have got one.
"The gaffer had a bit of a joke with me the other day about not scoring enough goals but I knew he meant it! I have not got enough goals from midfield over the last couple of years.
"I try to get shots on target from outside the area and I knew as soon as I hit this one that I had hit it well enough for it to go in. Obviously getting three points is the main thing but I'm pleased I've got a goal."
Having recently lost three games in a row and emerged from that slump with a home draw against West Ham, Albion have now won their last two matches.
They beat Norwich at The Hawthorns last weekend and face the ultimate test when they visit Manchester United on Saturday.
"We went off track a little bit but now we're unbeaten in three and we have won our last two," Brunt added. "For 60 or 70 minutes, we were the better side. We created more chances and, on another day, Romelu Lukaku may well have scored his two one-on-ones."
Albion's third away victory of the season came on a day which started on a troublesome note for them when they arrived later than planned at Loftus Road.
They had investigated the idea of a postponement because of the underground strike but ended up all smiles after being told it was business for them as usual.
"We did point out that if there was going to be traffic chaos in another part of London for Arsenal against West Ham, there may be traffic chaos in West London with the shopping centre (Westfields) and getting to Loftus Road," he said. "But they said we had to play.
"It took us an hour to travel five miles from our hotel to the stadium. But the preparation had already been done in the team meeting. The kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes, which helped us a little bit. It certainly didn't affect our performance. It wasn't a big issue."