Roberto De Zerbi says he is ‘very happy’ with Albion’s progress since he took charge in September but believes his team will improve after the World Cup break.
Albion sit seventh in the Premier League ahead of a 43-day hiatus before their next league game at Southampton on Boxing Day, although they will play their next match in the week before Christmas at Charlton Athletic in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.
Albion have picked up eight points in eight League games under the Italian in a period when they have faced a tough schedule with games against Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea.
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“It has been a very important period for me and my staff and after the [Aston Villa] game [on Sunday] I thanked the players because in this period they were fantastic, as were all the people in the club.
“I’m very happy with the first few weeks but not for the Villa result or our place on the table.”
The squad will have some time off before reconvening later this month to begin preparations for the second half of the season and De Zerbi expects them to hit the ground running.
“I want to start the next period of the season with the same passion and energy and attitude,” he added. “We can improve and we will. We need to improve in anticipating the situation [in games] – we have to stay alive and alert - but I’m positive we can go higher up the table.”
Pervis Estupinan, Jeremy Sarmiento and Moises Caicedo completed Albion’s group of World Cup players when they were named in Ecuador’s squad on Monday. Ecuador kick off the tournament on Sunday against the hosts Qatar.