West Brom manager Alan Irvine conceded his job could be on the line after his side were well beaten by champions Manchester City in the Boxing Day snow.
Scorers: West Brom - Ideye (87); Manchester City - Fernando (8), Toure (pen 13), Silva (34)
City ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at The Hawthorns with all their goals coming in the first half after they raced out of the blocks to take the lead after just eight minutes.
But while victory for City was their ninth in succession in all competitions – equalling a club record and keeping up the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Barclays Premier League – the story is different for the Baggies.
Irvine’s men have won just one of their last eight matches and they were booed off at half-time before they showed some spirit and grabbed a consolation after the break.
Irvine’s predecessor Pepe Mel lasted just four months in the job and other incumbents such as Roberto Di Matteo and Steve Clarke have been quickly ushered out in the recent past.
Irvine said: “The chairman will make a decision as far as that is concerned. I can’t control it. Can I be confident about it? Not necessarily, because I don’t know what the thinking is.
“All I can do is work as hard as I do and keep on trying to get the right kind of performances and results.”
City went ahead when Fernando acrobatically hooked in from close range after West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster spilled a corner and they doubled their lead after 13 minutes with a Yaya Toure penalty after David Silva was adjudged to have been fouled by former team-mate Joleon Lescott. Silva made it 3-0 after 34 minutes following a quick breakaway, finishing with a superb first-time shot into the bottom corner.
The Baggies were being outplayed but they proved much more resilient after the break and were rewarded with an 87th-minute consolation as Brown Ideye got the final touch from a corner.
Irvine said: “It was certainly very difficult to come back in those circumstances. The biggest thing I was interested to see in the second half was whether the players would be mentally strong enough – and they were, which was pleasing.
“To be 3-0 down against a team of their quality and to have been 3-0 down as a result of our own errors is obviously difficult to cope with. But full marks to them. They showed the mental strength and courage to take the ball and keep on playing. So they deserve a bit of credit for that.
“We did a lot of work on how we might create chances against Manchester City. A lot of the stuff we worked on actually worked on the day. The fact we didn’t finish that off with goals was sometimes down to some near misses and some good goalkeeping or defending. We caused them some problems going forward. We just gave ourselves a mountain to climb defensively.”
City’s scruffy end to the match took the gloss off an otherwise highly impressive performance, but manager Manuel Pellegrini was pleased enough with three more points to keep the pressure on Chelsea.
Success was all the more impressive coming without forwards Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, and captain Vincent Kompany.
Pellegrini said: “I am very satisfied, we have three points more. It was a difficult game, especially on Boxing Day. It is always difficult to play against a difficult team at home. They defended very well.
“We scored three goals again when set up without strikers. The way we are playing, we are doing very well so far.”
The result kept City within three points of leaders Chelsea, who beat West Ham earlier in the day.
They will now look to maintain the momentum as they host Burnley tomorrow and then Sunderland on New Year’s Day.
Pellegrini said: “I think it is a very important month and a key week. We have to play for nine points in just one week.
“I don’t think this week will decide the Premier League but it is important to be, as soon as we can, at the top of the table so we can have an advantage for the second round [of fixtures].”