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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Mowbray concentrating on his own great escape

West Brom manager Tony Mowbray is not calling on the memories of the club's last 'Great Escape' to inspire his players as their Premier League status goes on the line against Liverpool on Sunday.

Back in 2005, Albion made history under their then manager Bryan Robson by becoming the first club who were bottom of the table at Christmas to avoid relegation from the Premier League following a final day victory against Portsmouth.

Only two players, Jonathan Greening and Paul Robinson, are still at the club and Mowbray does not think what happened four years ago has any bearing on their predicament this season.

Defeat against Liverpool would relegate the Baggies and Mowbray said: "There has been no talk at all of the 'Great Escape' from me or any of the players as far as I am aware.

"I don't think it is something that we should try and take inspiration from. It was a totally different team, a different Premier League, a different fixture list.

"The only common thing is the supporters who went through that and enjoyed that atmosphere. It would be great for us all if we could prolong it to the last day of the season.

"That is our aim. It is a huge task because if we get beaten by Liverpool we will be relegated. All we can do is try and get and result and we will be doing our best to do that.''

Albion have lost all seven of their previous Premier League encounters against Liverpool - conceding 22 goals in the process.

Mowbray added: "We have got to be positive going into the game and not linger on too many negative statistics. This team has to go and try and play well against them. I think we will create chances. Can we take one of them? Let's wait and see.

"We have scored six goals and conceded one in the last two home games. I think it is important that we remain positive and try and give our supporters a good day.

"I am sure that they will all come to the ground hopeful and expectant and we have to try and make sure we stay in the game and make it an exciting affair for everybody.

"It is a big, big ask for us. But one that can be done. Middlesbrough have the same number of points as us but they beat them 2-0 at the Riverside.

"So if we are looking for a bit of inspiration it might come from one of our competitors in the bottom three. We have got to believe.''

Despite Albion's perilous position, Mowbray has retained the backing of the fans so much almost 3,000 of them will be wearing masks of the former Hibernian manager at the final game of the season at Blackburn last weekend.

Mowbray added: "If you know me as a person, I try and live by certain standards. Without putting myself on a pedestal I try and be honourable and live with integrity.

"I don't know how that comes across. But I can see the statistics that we are bottom of the league and stereotypically, football supporters would be unhappy about that so this gesture is very humbling.''

Mowbray has selection problems with midfielders Graham Dorrans and James Morrison sidelined with foot and heel problems while left-backs Paul Robinson (ankle) and Marek Cech (hamstring) will need late fitness tests.

Mowbray hopes he has come up with a masterplan to outwit Liverpool counterpart Rafael Benitez.

Mowbray has been trawling through DVD's of Liverpool games this week in a bid to find a chink in their armour.

Defeat for Albion will relegate them from the Barclays Premier League but Mowbray knows that stopping the Reds is a tough task for any team - let alone one propping up the table.

He said: "I know from what I have seen this week that Liverpool can really hurt teams with the way that they play.

"If you come up with something then they can match it and come up with the answer and win.

"They played against West Ham recently who had nearly 500 passes against them, dominated the ball and lost 3-0.

"Liverpool weren't interested in how much of the ball they had, they just waited and waited and nicked it off them - bang, goal.

"You can't get through them, you can't hurt them, you can't have a shot.

"They can pass you off the pitch or sit back and counter-attack against you.''

Albion swept past Wigan 3-1 last weekend, but Mowbray knows they will have to play a lot better to pull off a win against Liverpool.

"I think last week against Wigan we were too open,'' added Mowbray. "That was a game in which we gambled a bit to try to win.

"I think, with total respect to Wigan, Liverpool are a different animal. You have got be more cautious. They obviously play a different formation.

"Steven Gerrard plays in a position that can really hurt teams. You have got to have a game plan.

"Have we worked on tightening things up? No. But we have worked on a game plan to try to stifle their style of play but also to give us an opportunity to go and score and give them problems.

"That said, it is easier said than done as they have only lost two games this season.''

Mowbray has been buoyed by the lack of negativity at The Hawthorns despite the current predicament.

"I sense the fans are still very, very positive about their team regardless of where the club is,'' he said.

"I have been amazed by the positivity of the people I have spoken to.

"I think that is a great credit to them, how positive West Bromwich Albion supporters are in our current plight.

"This week, at functions I have been too, the fans continue to remain very, very positive about the team and the club.

"They remain positive about the prospect of staying up as we all have to.

"It is no good going to a supporters' club and saying, 'We can't beat Liverpool, we are down'.

"You have to go there and believe that you have got half a chance and you can get a result if things go your way on the day.''

Mowbray will not finalise his side until the eve of the match as left-backs Paul Robinson (ankle) and Marek Cech (hamstring) need late fitness tests.

He also has a decision to make in goal with Scott Carson fit to return after missing the game against Wigan with a hand injury.

Mowbray has to decide whether to recall Carson against his former club or retain Dean Kiely.


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