Jonny Evans has revealed some West Brom players cried following the loss to Bournemouth, but denies relegation is a foregone conclusion and that their predicament is due to the ill-fated Barcelona trip.
The Baggies suffered a crushing 2-1 defeat to the Cherries on Saturday, having conceded twice in the final 13 minutes after Evans was forced off because of illness and injury, to leave Alan Pardew’s side 10 points adrift of safety with only seven games remaining.
West Brom have now lost seven successive Premier League games and have won just once in the division since August, yet Evans maintains the squad have not accepted their fate is already sealed.
“I think there is hope,” said the centre-back, who spoke at the launch of a collaborative project between the Irish Football Association, Ulster GAA and Ulster Rugby called Sport Uniting Communities.
“Even after the Bournemouth game there was real disappointment in the changing room. It’s not like we have got to the point where we have accepted relegation.
“A lot of people have been writing us off. I understand with the position we are in it will be very difficult to get out of.
“There were a few tears after the game at the weekend because going into that game there was a lot of hope and optimism that we would get something from it and try to turn the season around even at this late stage. We were upset.
“We were ahead and then the game swung in the last 15 minutes and I think it has been the story of our season. It’s hard to take sometimes.
“Mathematically, though, we still have hope and we keep going until it is mathematically not possible. We owe that to ourselves and the fans to do that. That’s what we will continue to do that.”
It has been a disappointing season for West Brom collectively, and a difficult one for Evans personally.
Suggested moves to Manchester City and Arsenal in each of the last two transfer windows failed to materialise, while Evans missed out on a place in this summer’s World Cup with Northern Ireland because of a contentious penalty decision in their play-off with Switzerland.
The 30-year-old was also one of four players involved in an incident in Barcelona last month, where the quartet were alleged to have stolen a taxi in the early hours of the morning.
The Baggies have not won since, but Evans added: “I don’t think it has reflected anything on the pitch.
“People try and relate things that aren’t always relatable but before we went to Barcelona and before the manager arranged the trip I think we were bottom of the league.
“Our performances throughout the season haven’t been up to scratch. We haven’t got enough points on board.
“It is very difficult. Sometimes it is important to keep your head and stay focused on your job on the pitch.
“We have quite a settled changing room and harmonious dressing room and we are all very friendly with each other. That has been a big positive for us. The place isn’t completely crumbling like things have been reported on the outside.”
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