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Slaven Bilic raises Newcastle United hopes as speaks before FA Cup clash after home defeat

3 months ago
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Slaven Bilic had plenty food for thought after Saturday’s final whistle.

Going into the game against Wigan who were bottom three, the West Brom boss had every hope of emerging with an 11 or 12 point gap back to those chasing the automatic promotion spots and possible seven points opening up to the second placed club.

However, a shock home defeat to relegation threatened Wigan, Leeds winning 4-0 away at Hull and Fulham easing 2-0 past fellow promotion chasers Preston, has cast a very different light on things.

Slaven Bilic faces Newcastle United on Tuesday night and what plans he’d had for team selection against Newcastle if he’d had an 11 or 12 point promotion cushion with only 10 games to go, will now be ripped up.

This is how the Championship table now looks after Saturday’s matches:

As you can see, the reality is now only one point back to Leeds and six ahead of third placed Fulham, the fight for the automatic promotion places very much on.

The Championship is a long season and clubs, top and bottom, can go on long runs of positive and negative results. Yesterday’s defeat came on the back of a six game run of five wins and a draw, which had followed a run of seven games without a win, which followed 24 games that included only one defeat.

With 10 games remaining and a six point safety gap instead of 11 or 12, little surprise where priorities are now for Slaven Bilic.

The West Brom boss declaring: ‘When I talk about bouncing back, we need to bounce back against Swansea. Swansea is the big game. Newcastle is the bonus game.’

The Baggies have Swansea away next Saturday and defeat could see them knocked off top spot and only three points ahead of Fulham. West Brom have a tough set of fixtures following that as well, with a derby against Birmingham and then away games at Brentford and Sheff Wed.

Every hope now for Newcastle that Slaven Bilic will be looking after key players when it comes to Tuesday night and the ‘bonus’ game against Newcastle United.

Though with Steve Bruce and his team now having gone more than six hours without a Premier League goal and only one win in 10 PL games, nobody will be taking anything for granted.

Bilic’ preparations for NUFC not helped either by losing influential centre-back Ahmed Hegazi, forced off yesterday with a hamstring injury.

Asked about the mood after losing to Wigan and with Newcastle to come only 72 hours later, Slaven Bilic said:

‘The dressing room is very flat and silent.

“We are disappointed but that can’t help us.

“Tomorrow, back on the training ground, with smiles on the face but with the determination to put right the mistakes we did today.

“We can’t lose belief, confidence or start doubting ourselves…no no no no.

“It’s not our first defeat (of the season), it is very disappointing but it is time to get back on the winning track as soon as possible, the next game…

“When I talk about bouncing back, we need to bounce back against Swansea. Swansea is the big game. Newcastle is the bonus game.”

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