Belfast Telegraph

Pulis warns against complacency

Tony Pulis stressed there is plenty of work ahead for West Brom after his first Barclays Premier League game as Albion head coach ended in a 1-0 home victory over Hull.

Saido Berahino's 14th goal of the season, struck as he connected with a tee-up from an indirect free-kick inside the box in the 78th minute, secured a win that moved the Baggies up from 17th to 14th in the table and two points clear of the relegation zone.

Combined with the 7-0 FA Cup triumph over Gateshead last week, it has made for a highly encouraging start to life under Pulis so far for West Brom, many of whose fans may have subscribed to the idea that his appointment is a guarantee of their safety.

But the 56-year-old former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager was keen to warn against complacency following the final whistle of the Hull match.

"There is lots of work still to be done," Pulis said.

"I think the crowd was very patient and very good, and we'll need them to be behind us. I think the important thing is that people have to recognise and realise how tough this is going to be.

"People think I am just saying it to take the pressure off, but just take a look at the Championship and the number of teams in that division who have spent years in the Premier League.

"The reason they have gone into the Championship is that they have got complacent, without a question of a doubt.

"Everybody took their foot off the pedal and almost accepted they were going to remain in the top-flight. As soon as you do that, you will get relegated.

"It's what happens - people take their foot off. They expect. That is the worst word in the dictionary - complacency. It is my message to everybody.

"Everyone around this club has to understand this is a real dog-fight until the end of the season and for us to stay out of it, everyone has to pull together - and not just myself, the chairman, the staff and players.

"The supporters have an enormous role to play in this, and they were brilliant. They were patient, they kept behind the players and we will need that from now until the end of the season."

Regarding the prospect of boosting his squad in the January transfer window, Pulis - appointed as successor to Alan Irvine on New Year's Day - added: "You can get players in of the same calibre as what we have got, but we have to try to find better players, and that is my biggest worry - trying to find those players in such a short space of time, having joined the club when the window is open.

"I haven't got as much time as I had at Palace to line players up and get them in place."

While always looking unlikely to be breached at the back, West Brom had shown little cutting edge in attack during the contest before Berahino's goal, something clearly in evidence when their record signing Brown Ideye put a glorious opportunity wide just prior to half-time.

Indeed, Berahino - who followed up his four goals in the Gateshead game with this effort, and Pulis has not ruled out allowing to move this month - looked the only man likely to score all afternoon.

The head coach said: "We were disappointed that Brownie did not score in the first half - it was a great opportunity.

"Then Saido scores again, so he will get the headlines. There were lots of good things, but there is a lot to work on."

The indirect free-kick was awarded after Ahmed Elmohamady's backpass to Allan McGregor.

On the error, Hull boss Steve Bruce said: "The game looked like it had 0-0 written all over it and we were so comfortable defensively that it is a frustration to lose the game with a misunderstanding like we have.

"It is cruel on us, but that is the nature of it if you make mistakes like that at this level - and it is one of those comical ones.

"He (Elmohamady) doesn't need to touch it, and you could say the goalkeeper doesn't need to come out for it. It is that split-second where there is a lack of communication, and unfortunately we have been punished."

Hull suffered a double setback in the first half as frontmen Nikica Jelavic (knee) and Abel Hernandez (groin) were forced off having joined the club's already-lengthy injury list.

Bruce - whose side slipped to 17th, above the drop zone on goal difference alone - said: "Jelavic hurt the knee that was operated on two months ago. It is not like him to come off, so there's something wrong.

"He felt it a bit yesterday, but wanted to play. We do fear it is something niggling away - we just hope it's not a recurrence of the previous injury."

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