Caretaker West Brom boss keen to step down despite form

(Reuters) - West Bromwich Albion caretaker boss Keith Downing has urged the club to speed up the search for his long-term successor despite admitting he has enjoyed his four-game unbeaten spell in charge of the English Premier League strugglers.

Downing stepped in after manager Steve Clarke was sacked last month following a dismal run of just one victory in 10 matches that plunged them down the table.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder has overseen draws with Hull City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United before enjoying victory for the first time on Wednesday when Saido Berahino's late penalty was enough to see off Newcastle United.

"I am enjoying it," Downing told reporters after the 1-0 win, their first since a 2-0 success over Crystal Palace on November 2.

"It is easy to say that because I haven't been beaten but for me it was always about supporting the club and that is what I've always intended to do, whether win, draw or lose.

"It was important for the club to try to change the momentum and we have done that over the Christmas period but still a lot of work to be done."

Downing has had a positive effect on a talented team that have beaten champions Manchester United and drawn with title contenders Arsenal and Chelsea this season but have underperformed for the majority of the campaign.

The welcome three points moved West Brom up to 14th in the table, four points clear of the relegation zone, and Downing said he planned to prepare the team ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third round clash with Palace but warned a replacement was urgently required.

"I think it's an important month now, January is massive because the transfer window opens, there have to be contracts sorted out, ins and outs, so its important we get it done quickly," Downing said.

"It can't go on, the uncertainty can't go on. There has to be a decision eventually. They can't just keep making me caretaker in the next month. There has to be a decision from them on who takes it on.

"I've not spoken to the chairman, the chairman is obviously concentrating on trying to get the right appointment so let him get on with that."

Former Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay remains the favourite to take over following his controversial sacking by the club's Malaysian owner Vincent Tan, who looks set to appoint former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Downing, who has also had to deal with the furore over a controversial goal celebration by striker Nicolas Anelka on Saturday, remained steadfast about not wanting the job on a full time basis.

"No, I was always in a support role and that is what I intend to do," the former Cheltenham Town manager said.

"For me there is no magic wand, I've haven't changed a great deal, just tried to be as supportive and as positive as you possibly can be when you are given the role for a few weeks."

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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