sport

Horsfield: Fans are '12th man'

Former West Brom striker Geoff Horsfield says the club's supporters could hold the key to survival ahead of the club's relegation run-in.

The Baggies currently sit in 16th place after Monday's defeat to Premier League title challengers Manchester City, with just three points separating them from the relegation trapdoor.

A potentially season-defining clash with West Ham awaits this weekend, with further games against Arsenal, relegation rivals Sunderland and Stoke awaiting Pepe Mel's men.

The side's form has been patchy of late as they have been sucked into a relegation scrap, though the side will take heart from the heroics performed by Horsfield and co. under manager Bryan Robson in 2005.

The 'Horse', as affectionately nicknamed by fans, drew comparisons between Albion today and that of nine years ago, when Robson's side became the first - and, as yet, only - side to avoid relegation from being bottom on Christmas Day.

Horsfield told the Birmingham Mail: "The fans are the most important thing when you're struggling to get results and that will be needed with four games to go, home and away.

"When we played our final game [against Portsmouth in 2005] they did literally give us the 12th man."

Mel's side have suffered late setbacks in 3-3 draws at home to Cardiff and Tottenham recently, and Horsfield admitted: "I think after conceding late goals in every game it is especially hard to take.

"The coaching staff look at their preparation, as do the players themselves.

"We as a team had experienced players in [Kevin] Campbell, [Paul] Robinson, [Russell] Hoult and myself and the mentality that we would stop up.

"We had great characters and a lot of English based players, but there were also good players that could handle pressure, and that was the key.

"I think West Brom have some good players. Are there enough leaders? It doesn't look like it."

Horsfield also played down the recent player bust-up between Saido Berahino and James Morrison, stating that arguments were a common occurrence in football.

He said: "I don't think we had one game in the last two months [of the 2004/05 season] when we weren't at each other's throats, as we all wanted the same thing and that was to stop up.

"We also had a tight squad where we all socialised together and that helped considerably.

"I think that there is always going to be aggression in changing rooms as 30 men together is very difficult.

"It's just a shame that somebody didn't keep it in the changing rooms."