West Brom boss Tony Pulis plays down Saido Berahino fall-out
West Brom boss Tony Pulis denied any rift with Saido Berahino but insisted the striker must improve his attitude.
The striker was a substitute for the eighth straight game as Albion beat Newcastle 1-0 as Pulis said pre-game he had let himself down and was lucky to be on the bench.
He also hinted at problems with Berahino behind the scenes although it is understood there has been no specific flashpoint with the 22-year-old.
He threatened to strike after two deadline day bids from Tottenham were rejected and has scored just three goals since the summer transfer saga.
And, after Darren Fletcher's winning header, Pulis insisted while Berahino will not be fined his demeanour needs to get better.
"Sometimes supporters don't realise and understand exactly what goes on behind the scenes," he said.
"I always want the team to be a team, the supporters, the players, the management side, the directors, everyone together.
"Sometimes Saido does things that break away from that. He's been told, but he's been fine as you've seen today his reaction coming on was absolutely fantastic.
"He worked socks off and he's fine - no problems. At times you have to make him understand it's about the group and about the team.
"It's more a reminder it's about the group. You've got to look and understand Saido's had almost five months where he's not prepared himself or got himself ready and prepared to play in the team.
"He's a terrific player and he's got great ability and that great knack, even today coming on, of getting in great positions."
Victor Anichebe was given his first start since May ahead of Berahino and Pulis reserved praise for the former Everton striker.
"He's a top player. When Victor turns up he's a top player," he added.
"He's shown that today, he was a handful for them and they just couldn't handle him."
Defeat left the Magpies in the bottom three after Karl Darlow's error allowed Fletcher's 78th minute header to cross the line.
They also missed fine chances as Paul Dummett hit the crossbar and Fabricio Coloccini struck the post.
Steve McClaren's side are two points from safety after successive defeats over Christmas but the boss felt they should have had a second-half penalty when Aleksandar Mitrovic missed his kick and felt he was pulled back in the area.
He said: "It is a game we never deserved to lose.
"It is a blatant penalty, I have seen it three or four times and the referee when he sees it again will realise he has made the wrong decision. The defender has grabbed Mitrovic around the waist and has put him off his shot before we lost to a soft goal at the end.
"We have ended the first half of the season with a bit of consistently but have been unlucky with our last two results.
"I am more disappointed for the players because they are fighting and showing attitude and endeavour.
"I am interested to know if there were boos (from fans at the end) because I think the team went over and were applauded.
"Sometimes you don't get what you deserve in football and the last two games we haven't but we have to continue what we have been doing knowing - and I know - it will turn around."