Robson looks to Diomÿde in survival plan

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The Independent Football

The West Bromwich Albion manager, Bryan Robson, could recruit a World Cup winner to try to help lead his side to Premiership survival.

Robson has invited the French international Bernard Diomède to The Hawthorns for a week's training as he attempts to strengthen his side for what is likely to be the most crucial month of the club's season. The former Liverpool midfielder is anxious to find a club after leaving the French side AC Ajaccio as a free agent. Diomède could hardly have picked a better time to impress with Albion's Welsh midfielder Andy Johnson set to miss a vital forthcoming phase of games with a knee injury.

Robson is well aware that imminent matches against Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Southampton are set to shape his side's season. With all but the Norwich game at home, Robson is not the only one convinced his side can overcome the weight of history and become the first Premiership side to survive having been bottom at Christmas.

His optimism is shared by many fans on the terraces who are beginning to warm to Robson's methods after an inauspicious start to his period in charge. The vice-chairman of Albion's official supporters club, Dave Holloway, said faith was beginning to grow after draws at Manchester City and Bolton and a cruel injury-time defeat at Fulham last Sunday.

Holloway said: "At half-time at Manchester City we were all resigned to relegation but since then things have really picked up.

"We're playing much better and our survival target is likely to be much smaller than in previous years.

"We've got the most important series of games in our season coming up and the way we're playing at the moment we're bound to get a win some time soon."

Robson wasted no time shaking up the team he inherited from his predecessor, Gary Megson, bringing Cosmin Contra and Ronnie Wallwork back into first-team action. His changes initially prompted some discontent among supporters, but Holloway believes that the former Hawthorns favourite is beginning to win the hard-core fans round to his style of management.

Holloway observed: "The fans got on his back at first because they couldn't understand his substitutions or team selection.

"The fans had got used to Gary Megson, who got us two promotions, and didn't like the fact that he'd gone.

"But Bryan is beginning to surprise us with some of his tactics and we're going into the next month with a lot more confidence about our chances."

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