West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson has warned his players to expect a tougher challenge in the top flight this term after the Baggies secured a credible 11th place finish following the former Liverpool boss’s arrival mid-season.
Hodgson, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo at the Hawthorns, led Albion to their highest ever finish in the Barclays Premier League, and the manager reckons much of their success was down to the fact a number of their players were relative unknowns.
That will not be the case in the coming campaign, and Hodgson says: “I think the whole team will find it harder this season. When we suffered that period when we went a number of games without winning and getting many points people basically started writing us off.
"They may have got a bit of a shock that towards the end we pulled ourselves up by our boot straps again. But I don't think anyone is going to be expecting anything less of us than we showed at the start of last season and at the end of last season.
"We are a good club and we have got good players. People like Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu were slightly under the radar. After good Premier League seasons they will no longer be under the radar, they will be on everyone's radar."
Meanwhile, skipper Chris Brunt has penned a new long-term contract which will keep him with the Baggies until 2014, with an additional year option in the contract.
Brunt follows in the footsteps of Mulumbu, who signed an extension with the Midlands outfit last week, and Hodgson is delighted to tie his skipper down.
"I'm pleased Chris has been rewarded with this extension on improved terms. It is fully deserved," said the manager. "He's been a great club servant and I'm delighted he's committed himself to West Bromwich Albion for a longer period."
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