Bilic claims lack of pressure gives "average" Forest and Brentford an advantage in race for promotion
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Slaven Bilic, Manager of West Bromwich Albion looks on before the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest at The Hawthorns on February 15, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

With 13 games to go, the 'business end' of the Sky Bet Championship is looming on the horizon.

However, West Bromwich Albion manager Slaven Bilic is already feeling the pressure with his side set to undergo another tricky test away at playoff hopefuls Bristol City on Saturday.

As league leaders, Albion head into the game as unanimous favourites, but it is the expectation to consistently pick up results that he feels is putting his side at a disadvantage to fellow promotion rivals Nottingham Forest and Brentford, who Bilic described as "average" and "dreaming".

Bilic's implicitly scathing assessment of the promotion picture is unlikely to ease tensions between West Brom and Forest following a social media spat in the aftermath of the 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns last Saturday - a game that was steeped in controversy.

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"It is much easier to be third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh than first or second. They are dreaming. If you read about Forest, they are dreaming they are hoping to get in the top two," Bilic told Birmingham Live.

"But when you are top two you have to [win promotion]. That is a pressure you have to cope with."

He continued, dismissing the idea that he would prefer to be the hunter as opposed to the hunted in the race for promotion: "It’s easier with everything you do to be average. But if you want to be the best journalist, the best actor, the best surgeon it takes sacrifice.

Dreaming, hoping. Brentford hoping, this one dreaming. Third is dreaming, the second one has to [achieve promotion]. It is like that but nobody would swap. They would swap with us."

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Looking ahead to Saturday's game in his pre-match interview with the clubs media, he added: "Bristol City are a very good team, they are a very ambitious club. They are up there and they want to go to the Premier League and they showed in the January transfer window with the few players they have got; they are ambitious and they are leaning towards that.

"They are a very organised team, they are very stubborn with top strikers who can hurt you and their work-rate is top. Like in every game we will have to be on top of our game."