GUS Poyet says Albion will have only themselves to blame if they do not make the play-offs.
The boss believes there are only “three or four” sides better than the Seagulls in the Championship and wants his players to grab a “great opportunity” to finish in the top six.
The Seagulls turn their attention back to the league, with key games at home to Derby on Saturday and away to Birmingham a week later, after knocking Newcastle out of the FA Cup again.
They are ninth, above Derby on goal difference and three points outside the play-offs with a game in hand on the majority of their rivals, as they bid for only their third league win at The Amex since mid-September against Nigel Clough’s County.
Poyet said: “We have had six or seven games at home that we didn’t win that I’m sure won’t happen in the next 20 years of my managerial career. We were so much better than the opposition it was scary.
“We are better than last year but it hasn’t shown in the table and that is our fault. It’s a great opportunity this year for many, many teams to be in the top six.
“I’m sure the only ones to blame if we are not there is us. Of course, there are opposition players but there are three or four teams better than the rest.
“The rest of the table we are all very similar and it is up to us to make sure we win. The opportunity is there, let’s see if we can take it.”
Albion will know their FA Cup fourth round opponents a week tomorrow, when Arsenal face Swansea in their replay at The Emirates. Poyet is keen to ensure another cup run does not detract from the priority of sustaining a promotion challenge.
He said: “It can go either way, help you to keep the momentum or against you if you expend too much energy. Last year in the beginning it was bad for us. We gave everything against Sunderland and Liverpool (League Cup) and then we were terrible for two months. I hope it doesn’t happen.”
Albion’s last 32 collision with Arsenal or Swansea coincides with the scheduled completion of stage two of The Amex expansion, an extra 500 seats in the South Stand hospitality area.
Meanwhile, the Seagulls and Derby could both drop a place before locking horns – but only if their former striker Dean Saunders makes a losing start to his reign as Wolves manager against Blackburn Rovers at Molineux on Friday night.
Albion's promotion challenge could soon be boosted by the return to contention of Vicente after the Spanish playmaker resumed training with the first team squad today.
* See tomorrow's Argus for the full story.