from BBC News for Birmingham and the Black Country
Kyle Bartley believes his performances this season show he “deserves a place” in West Bromwich Albion’s team after a tricky start to his Baggies career.The defender joined in 2018 but divided opinion with his form last season. But the 28-year-old has helped Albion top the Championship this term.
“If I’m playing in a position that I feel comfortable with and I’m healthy and at full fitness, I believe that I deserve a place in this team and I’ll stand out in this league,” he said.”I’ve continued doing what I do and working hard off the pitch, so hopefully I can keep performing on the pitch,” Bartley told BBC WM 95.6.”It’s a massive motivation when you can hear the fans cheering along.”It kind of gives that hostile atmosphere, it really does make a difference to us, to me especially, and hopefully they can be like that on Monday (against Stoke) and throughout the rest of the season.”The centre-back had a difficult beginning to his Albion career, after a suspension saw him fall out of favour, with him not featuring in the squad for a total of nine games across November and December 2018.He made 34 appearances in all competitions during the 2018-19 campaign; this season he has made 25 so far.Baggies bidding for boost in formAlbion are hoping to extend their one-point lead at the top of the Championship, despite a run of four draws and one loss in their past five games.”We had a really good start to the season,” said the former Arsenal youngster. “We know we’re going through a bit of a tricky patch at the moment, but we’ve got enough experience in the dressing room to know that these things happen.”It’s a time to stick together, work a little bit harder and the results will soon change.”Things seem to go against you a bit, but we work harder than anyone and keep doing what we’re doing. The staff come up with great game plans.”Albion are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season, which saw them lose on penalties to local rivals Aston Villa in the semi-finals of the play-offs.”It’s not something I want to go through again, that’s for sure,” said Bartley.”Our sole focus is on automatic promotion and I don’t think anyone has hidden that throughout the season.”We’re in that spot at the moment, and it’s our job now to keep doing what we’ve been doing throughout the season and be focused after the festive period and get back on track.”
The government is examining whether to move the House of Lords out of London, the Conservative Party chairman has said.James Cleverly told Sky News the idea was among a “range of options” being considered to “reconnect” politics with voters outside of the capital. According to the Sunday Times, York and Birmingham have emerged as contenders to permanently host the upper chamber.But Labour MP Nadia Whittome described the idea as “superficial”. According to the newspaper, a decision on whether to relocate the chamber will be determined as part of a constitutional review being launched in the spring. It reported that disused land near York railway station has been identified as a possible site to host the chamber, which houses 795 peers.The House of Lords is already due to temporarily relocate out of the Palace of Westminster as part of refurbishment plans due to begin in around 2025. A parliamentary committee has previously recommended the chamber should move to the government-owned Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster whilst works are under way. The venue would only be a short walk from Richmond House, the former home of the Department of Health, which has been proposed as a temporary home for the House of Commons. Asked to comment on the proposals in the Sunday Times report, Mr Cleverly told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “It’s one of a range of things that we are looking into.”What we are looking at is a whole range of options about making sure every part of the UK feels properly connected to politics,” he added.”Fundamentally what this is about is demonstrating to the people that we are going to do things differently.”Analysis by Peter Saull, BBC political reporter For many reasons, ‘The Lords of the North,’ as some are calling it, appears far-fetched.However, the fact that it is being considered at all highlights the government’s desire to address a perceived disconnect between politicians and voters.The subject has also featured heavily in the Labour leadership contest, with several of the candidates calling for our democracy to be far less London-centric.Large swathes of the Midlands and the north of England turned Conservative in the election – and the government wants to bring Westminster closer to the voters it represents; perhaps literally. Whether or not it actually comes to pass, the idea of moving the second chamber north fits in nicely with Downing Street’s “levelling up” agenda.Sending peers to work hundreds of miles away from MPs would, though, present logistical as well as constitutional challenges. What would happen, for example, on the day of the Queen’s Speech? Would Her Majesty have to travel to York? Would Black Rod take a train to London, only to have the door of the Commons ceremonially slammed in her face? Would MPs go on a coach trip up the M1 to hear the government’s plans? International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said he was not involved in discussions about a Lords relocation but was “supportive” of the idea. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “As a principle it’s a perfectly good thing that we are connecting government to all parts of the country.”I think it’s absolutely right that if you want to be a government of the people, you must reach out to people across the country.”But Nadia Whittome, the newly-elected MP for Nottingham East, told the programme: “Working class people whether in the North, the Midlands or the South don’t care about the unelected House of Lords.” “We want jobs, we want proper investment and meaningful decentralisation of power,” she said.”Replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber and move it to the North and then we’re talking – but this is superficial, it’s tinkering around the edges.”
Line-upsMatch StatsLive TextLine-upsB’ham City Women1Hampton2Mayling3Scott25Holloway15Jordan7Arthur37Staniforth20Walker19Whipp11Grant8WilliamsSubstitutes6Harrop10Visalli13Brooks16Brougham21KellyMan City Women26Roebuck11BeckieSubstituted forStanwayat 45’minutes4Bonner6Houghton3Stokes19Weir8Scott24Walsh9Bremer18White15HempSubstitutes7Coombs10Stanway16Park17Lee25Wullaert34Benameur35Veiga Santiago FidalgoReferee:Helen ConleyMatch StatsHome TeamB’ham City WomenAway TeamMan City WomenPossessionHome42%Away58%ShotsHome2Away7Shots on TargetHome2Away2CornersHome1Away6FoulsHome0Away4Live TextPosted at 47′ Attempt saved. Rachel Williams (Birmingham City Women) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.Posted at 46′ Corner, Birmingham City Women. Conceded by Demi Stokes.Second HalfPosted at Second Half begins Birmingham City Women 0, Manchester City Women 1.SubstitutionPosted at 45′ Substitution, Manchester City Women. Georgia Stanway replaces Janine Beckie.Half TimePosted at 45’+2′ First Half ends, Birmingham City Women 0, Manchester City Women 1.Posted at 45′ Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Hannah Hampton.Posted at 45′ Attempt saved. Keira Walsh (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.Posted at 45′ Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Claudia Walker.Posted at 44′ Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Rebecca Holloway.Posted at 44′ Attempt blocked. Pauline Bremer (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.Posted at 44′ Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Harriet Scott.Posted at 43′ Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Rebecca Holloway.Posted at 42′ Foul by Demi Stokes (Manchester City Women).Posted at 42′ Harriet Scott (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.Posted at 39′ Attempt missed. Ellen White (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.Posted at 38′ Foul by Ellen White (Manchester City Women).Posted at 38′ Claudia Walker (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.Posted at 35′ Foul by Jill Scott (Manchester City Women).Posted at 35′ Adrienne Jordan (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.Posted at 35′ Attempt missed. Ellen White (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from very close range is too high.Posted at 30′ Attempt missed. Pauline Bremer (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the left.Posted at 26′ Attempt missed. Pauline Bremer (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high.Posted at 23′ Attempt saved. Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.Posted at 12′ Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Lucy Staniforth.Posted at 11′ Foul by Keira Walsh (Manchester City Women).Posted at 11′ Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Goal!Posted at 1′ Goal! Birmingham City Women 0, Manchester City Women 1. Ellen White (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jill Scott.Kick OffPosted at First Half begins.Lineups are announced and players are warming up.goalMatch report to follow.
“The edge of inappropriate is the spiritual home of the best stand-up comedy,” proclaims Frank Skinner in the programme notes for his new West End show, Showbiz.It’s also, he jokes, “the name of my country house in Gloucestershire”.The 62-year-old, who has made a pretty good living walking the tightrope of comedic taste, is about to ride the bus (using his over 60s travel card) to London’s Garrick Theatre, as he speaks to the BBC, for the first night of a five-week residency, having road-tested it around the UK last year.Loosely-based around celebrity anecdotes he’s acquired over the past 25 years working as one of the country’s most cherished comedians, Skinner’s show is littered with poetic and funny filth about his decaying body, lessening libido and late arrival to fatherhood in his mid-50s.In an era when critics have called “wokeness” – the modern day political correctness – the death knell for comedy, the veteran stand-up still trusts his instincts.”Sometimes when you start improvising on stage, which I do a fair bit of, obviously you haven’t planned it. But to be honest, it’s not like I’m one of these blokes who is sitting at home pouring it all out and then does a different thing on stage.”I think the line between me on and off is fairly blurred”.In other words, if a joke is good enough to tell down the pub, then it’s fit for the stage too.’Lightness of touch’The Royal family, Bruce Forsyth and the ahem, “cursed” Strictly dancers all find themselves on the receiving end of Skinner’s dry wit in the show, which The Guardian said finds the “statesman of stand-up shows” showing “no sign of stiffening”.”It’s rare to see such fast-thinking wit deployed with such a sense of joy,” added The Times’ Dominic Maxwell.Skinner declared on-stage during Wednesday’s press night that “a lightness of touch” is required when tackling certain topics (mostly genitalia). He allayed the fears of an apparently worried-looking audience member named Linda that she needn’t worry about an accent he was about to attempt.”When I started doing comedy,” he adds, “We were very much what was then called ‘alternative comedy’ and the two great centrepieces of that was non-sexist, non-racist.”That was the big thing, which now seems absolutely basic, page one, but then was revolutionary.”I did mainstream working men’s clubs in Birmingham, and you would not believe the racism, for example, was absolutely the norm [for] friendly middle-aged entertainers.”We were at the beginning of that and I think we started to expand it. So then you think, ‘Well what about homophobia?'”While he jokes woke culture means he’ll no longer help attractive young women with their heavy suitcases, Skinner believes the new normal parameters are “a sort of a militaristic approach to kindness”.”Unless you force people to do stuff, most people won’t do it. So I think you can make a few interesting dramas about sexual predators, but the best way to stop it is to say to people, they’ll lose their job.”So I’m all for a bit of moral menace, as it were”.US President Barack Obama recently spoke of his distrust of righteous online trolls, while US comedian Dave Chappelle made a whole stand-up special about cancel culture. Satirist Armando Iannucci said last week he thinks people are “losing the appetite to engage in argument” for fear of causing offence.”I think it can be annoying at times,” Skinner goes on, “It can empower idiots on occasion, and when it becomes like a parlour game where people sit around saying, ‘Oh, you said that, and you shouldn’t have said that…”I grew up going to football matches where people threw bananas at black players and we didn’t have to sit around and debate whether it was racist or not. But I think it’s one of the major social advances of the last 60 years.”He believes that in the age of Twitter, it would be hard for any comedian harbouring suspect personal views to fake it for long anyway.”I got in one night and my partner said to me, ‘What were you doing in Superdrug?’ And I thought, ‘This is it now, this is East Germany!'”All my philandering in the past would be impossible in the modern generation”.Fellow British comedian Ricky Gervais criticised celebrities at the Golden Globe Awards for mere virtue signalling and Skinner would tend to agree, noting “there’s only one thing more embarrassing than the celebrities talking about politics; and that’s politicians talking about anything other than politics”.’Best shot’The working class millionaire confesses to have started preaching from the pulpit himself lately, to an audience of one: Seven-year-old son Buzz.”The other day I gave a little speech at home about the fact that we shouldn’t see Frozen 2 as girl film, that there’s no such thing as a girl film.”I don’t know whether I really believe that or not, but I felt it was important to say so!”Dad and lad recently went on a history-themed trip to Rome, where the Catholic comedian managed to wangle front row tickets for an audience with the Pope at The Vatican. This time through his church connections, not his showbiz ones.Another family trip saw Skinner make a deal with his partner of 19 years, Cath Mason, not to swear for the first five minutes of his set at Latitude Festival so the youngster could see his old man at work.The star, who suffered a bad bout of pneumonia in late 2018 (“it’s great for the cheekbones!”), says he’s giving the late dad thing his “best shot”, mindful of how many younger men have made mess of it.”If I’d have had kids in my 20s it would have been nightmarish”.Skinner was in his 30s when he decided to give stand-up a shot, while working as an English lecturer, and he soon found himself winning the coveted Perrier Award at Edinburg Fringe Festival in 1991.In the 1990s he became a household name, flying the flag for the (slightly) more intellectual end of lad culture alongside David Baddiel on the cult TV show Fantasy Football League, en route to getting his own chat show.The teetotaller admits he used to live it up when he first got famous but says the effects soon wore off, and as a result he now has few actual showbiz friends as a result.For this he blames his “lack of Class A drugs credentials” during an era of mass hedonism in British pop culture.Although he didn’t fully large it up like the Gallagher brothers he did have similar chart success thanks to the England Euro 96 football anthem Three Lions, which he wrote with Baddiel and Lightning seed Ian Broudie (both of whom stepped out to see their old pal perform this week).As his beloved England made it to the 2018 World Cup Semi-Finals, the song broke a chart record by returning to the top for a fourth time. Sadly though it broke another one soon after, by becoming fastest-falling number one of all-time, dropping to number 97 after Gareth Southgate’s men were knocked-out by Croatia.Through bleary eyes, Skinner – who thinks England’s Euro 2020 forwards look “deadly” – was at least equipped to see the funny side.”It’s beautiful that it was by 96 places. Couldn’t be better.”Frank Skinner’s stand-up show Showbiz runs at London’s Garrick Theatre until 15 FebruaryFollow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email email@example.com.
Cardiff City fought back to earn a point at St Andrew’s as Lee Tomlin’s second-half header earned the Bluebirds a share of the spoils.Highly-rated teenager Jude Bellingham swept the hosts into an early lead.Birmingham were much the better side in the first period but physical Cardiff improved markedly after half-time.
Cardiff slip to 13th, five points off the Championship play-off berths, while Pep Clotet’s Blues remain 18th, nine points clear of trouble.Birmingham had lost their last two league matches against Cardiff, conceding seven goals, but they started much the brighter side and took a deserved fourth-minute lead.Cardiff were punished for some extremely sloppy defending at a corner – and 16-year old Bellingham was given time and space to deliver a composed finish – his second goal in three home games.Championship tableDan Crowley was providing the thrust for the hosts who were unlucky not to double their lead when Jeremie Bela hammered against the bar- and Bellingham was only denied a second by a stunning Alex Smithies save.Maxime Colin also blasted over as the hosts failed to double their lead before the interval, though Cardiff did improve to make the second period a more even affair.Lee Tomlin thought he had levelled but the offside flag intervened, before he also had a penalty appeal waved away.But Cardiff’s most creative player did then equalise just past the hour when he converted from Marlon Pack’s corner, heading home smartly at the near post.Tomlin fired just wide on 73 minutes, before the hosts were denied when Lukas Jutkiewicz’s brilliant header was saved superbly by Smithies.Callum Paterson then fired straight at Lee Camp as Cardiff pushed for a winner, but the hosts warranted a point for their first-half display and held firm.Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet told BBC WM:”We got a lot of our football back after a tough Christmas. I take a lot of interest in shots on target, and we had a lot more than them in the first half.”Unfortunately, we didn’t score the second goal that would have put the game to bed.”We knew at half-time they would come at us and turn the game into a set-piece game.”Cardiff City manager Neil Harris told BBC Sport Wales: “In the first half, we were not very good. We were poor with the ball. We said at half-time, let’s simplify the plan and do what the conditions dictated.”We went a bit more direct and in the second half it was everything our fans want to see, a team who have a right go.”We played in the right areas and looked a real threat. If the referee does his job properly we probably win. I felt it was definitely a penalty on Lee Tomlin. I thought at the time it was a stonewall penalty.”Line-upsMatch StatsLive TextLine-upsBirmingham1Camp5Colin4Roberts14Clarke-Salter3Pedersen22BellinghamSubstituted forGardnerat 80’minutesBooked at 84mins34Sunjic7Crowley18MrabtiSubstituted forMaghomaat 64’minutes11Bela10JutkiewiczSubstitutes15Montero16McEachran19Maghoma20Gardner24Giménez26Davis27TruemanCardiff12Smithies21RichardsBooked at 68mins4Morrison16Nelson3Bennett7Bacuna15PackBooked at 74mins20Whyte17TomlinBooked at 61minsSubstituted forGlatzelat 90+1’minutes33HoilettSubstituted forRallsat 84’minutes23WardSubstituted forPatersonat 32’minutesSubstitutes1Etheridge5Flint6Vaulks8Ralls9Glatzel11Murphy13PatersonReferee:Andy DaviesAttendance:20,482Match StatsHome TeamBirminghamAway TeamCardiffPossessionHome50%Away50%ShotsHome14Away6Shots on TargetHome3Away2CornersHome8Away6FoulsHome11Away10Live TextPosted at Match ends, Birmingham City 1, Cardiff City 1.Full TimePosted at 90’+5′ Second Half ends, Birmingham City 1, Cardiff City 1.Posted at 90’+5′ Attempt blocked. Joe Bennett (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marlon Pack.SubstitutionPosted at 90’+1′ Substitution, Cardiff City. Robert Glatzel replaces Lee Tomlin because of an injury.Posted at 88′ Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 88′ Foul by Leandro Bacuna (Cardiff City).Posted at 86′ Attempt saved. Callum Paterson (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lee Tomlin.BookingPosted at 84′ Gary Gardner (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 84′ Foul by Gary Gardner (Birmingham City).Posted at 84′ Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.SubstitutionPosted at 84′ Substitution, Cardiff City. Joe Ralls replaces David Junior Hoilett.Posted at 82′ Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Jazz Richards.Posted at 82′ Attempt saved. Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ivan Sunjic with a cross.Posted at 81′ Attempt blocked. Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jacques Maghoma.SubstitutionPosted at 80′ Substitution, Birmingham City. Gary Gardner replaces Jude Bellingham.Posted at 80′ Attempt missed. Leandro Bacuna (Cardiff City) header from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Callum Paterson with a cross.Posted at 76′ Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Joe Bennett.BookingPosted at 74′ Marlon Pack (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 74′ Maxime Colin (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 74′ Foul by Marlon Pack (Cardiff City).Posted at 73′ Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Lukas Jutkiewicz.Posted at 73′ Foul by Ivan Sunjic (Birmingham City).Posted at 73′ Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.BookingPosted at 68′ Jazz Richards (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 65′ Joe Bennett (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 65′ Foul by Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City).SubstitutionPosted at 64′ Substitution, Birmingham City. Jacques Maghoma replaces Kerim Mrabti.Goal!Posted at 63′ Goal! Birmingham City 1, Cardiff City 1. Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Marlon Pack with a cross following a corner.Posted at 63′ Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Lukas Jutkiewicz.Posted at 62′ Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Maxime Colin.BookingPosted at 61′ Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card.Posted at 61′ Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 61′ Foul by Jake Clarke-Salter (Birmingham City).Posted at 60′ Attempt blocked. Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kristian Pedersen with a headed pass.Posted at 60′ Foul by Lee Tomlin (Cardiff City).Posted at 60′ Ivan Sunjic (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 57′ Foul by Curtis Nelson (Cardiff City).Posted at 57′ Kerim Mrabti (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the right wing.Posted at 53′ Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Kristian Pedersen.Posted at 53′ Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Lukas Jutkiewicz.Show more updatesgoal
Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Birmingham and Black Country From: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51073342
A 17-year-old boy who died after a stabbing has been identified by police.Nasir Patrice died at the scene of the attack on Tachbrook Road in Leamington Spa on Wednesday morning.The family of the Birmingham teenager said their lives “will never be the same”, adding: “We are all deeply saddened, heartbroken and will miss Nasir.”Three people have been arrested on suspicion of his murder, including an 18-year-old man who was also stabbed.He is in police custody in hospital, where he is in a stable condition.A 33-year-old man from Leamington Spa, who was arrested shortly after the attack, has been released on bail and a 17-year-old from Coventry remains in custody.Police said they arrested a fourth person on Friday. The 18-year-old man, from Birmingham, was held on suspicion of assisting an offender.Latest news from the West MidlandsCh Supt Ben Smith, from Warwickshire Police, described the stabbing as “a tragic incident”.Investigations to establish the circumstances surrounding the stabbing were ongoing, he said, although on Thursday the force said the attack might be linked to the county lines drugs trade.County lines is the term used to describe criminal gangs who move illegal drugs from big cities to more rural locations and sell them via dedicated mobile phone lines.”We will not tolerate violent crime in our communities,” Ch Supt Smith said.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone
A man has been injured at a fire at the Birmingham pub where UB40 filmed the video for Red Red Wine.The blaze at The Eagle and Tun on the corner of New Canal Street and Banbury Street in Digbeth was reported at 20:50 GMT on Thursday. The victim, aged in his 50s, was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. According to the pub’s Facebook page, it closed earlier this month. West Midlands Police said its officers were working alongside the fire service to establish the cause of the blaze.Latest news from the West MidlandsUB40 released the song in 1983 and, speaking to the BBC in February 2016, said the Eagle and Tun had been their local for many years.Red Red Wine sold almost two million copies, topping the UK charts in 1983 and emulating the feat in the United States five years later.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Britain’s Kal Yafai will defend his WBA world super-flyweight title against Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez on Saturday, 29 February in Frisco, Texas.Yafai, 30, has won all 26 of his professional bouts and is Britain’s longest reigning world champion.Gonzalez, 32, whose nickname is Chocolatito, has held world titles at four weights, including the WBC version of the super-flyweight championship.
“It doesn’t get bigger than this and it’ll bring out my best,” said Yafai.”Chocolatito is someone I have idolised as I worked my way up to become world champion myself, so I can’t wait.”The Birmingham boxer added: “It’s a case of when idols become rivals and I am so honoured to share the ring with him but also show the world that I am an elite world champion.” The fight will be held at Ford Center at The Star and Gonzalez, who has 48 wins and two defeats in his 15-year professional career, added: “I know this will be a very hard fight, but it will be worthy of all our efforts and determination.”God has responded to my prayers once again.”
West Bromwich Albion have to “minimise and nullify mistakes” as they bid to hold on to the Championship top spot, says boss Slaven Bilic.The Baggies, who host Stoke on Monday, are a point clear of second-placed Leeds United and seven in front of Brentford in third.”It would be brilliant to have a 20-point gap and to be sorted now, but it’s not like that,” Bilic told BBC WM.
Albion are without a win in five league games, drawing four and losing one.That run has seen the gap between themselves and the play-off places cut from 12 points since the win at Birmingham last month.”Of course we know that the gap is getting closer,” said Bilic. “Every team has a plan and is optimistic. No team is coming in to any game thinking this is not important or that it is a friendly.Baggies back top after point at Charlton”It isn’t easy for any of the teams around us, apart from Brentford, they are on fire now.”We are still on top of the table in a great position and we know that we have to minimise and nullify the mistakes to make that gap bigger again. “We dropped a bit and last week [in the 2-2 draw against Charlton] we played good, but we were sloppy with defending and we weren’t good enough in situations to put the game to bed.”Bilic eyes additions to Albion squadDespite Albion being the Championship’s top scorers, with 50 goals, Bilic is looking to add to his squad during the transfer window and confirmed his interest in Dinamo Zagreb forward Mislav Orsic.The 27-year-old Croatia international has scored 18 goals in 25 club appearances this season.”On the one hand, I don’t like to talk about the players who aren’t on our list, who are not West Brom players, but yes, I like him as a player,” added Bilic.”He has got into the national team, which is not easy to break into as we have a good national team.”He is a really good player and I like him a lot, but we will see what happens there.”Sweden international and former Norwich and Swansea defender Martin Olsson is also training with the Baggies after recovering from a ruptured Achilles.”Martin was free, he didn’t play football for a year, but he’s a good age and he is very experienced,” said Bilic.”He looks good, hopefully he is going to look good enough to stay with us and hopefully we are going to be good for him.”