18:49 27th April 2013
And Baggies boss says his record breakers deserve more credit
STEVE Clarke hailed Albion’s record-breaking win at Southampton as ‘almost the perfect away performance’.
The Baggies ended the Saints’ six-game unbeaten run in emphatic style with a 3-0 scoreline that took them to 48 points for the season and 14 victories in the campaign – both Barclays Premier League club records.
The visitors controlled the game from start to finish and should have had more than Marc-Antoine Fortune’s sixth-minute opener to show for the efforts at half-time.
But Romelu Lukaku made up for his earlier misses with his 14th goal of the season on 67 and ten minutes later Shane Long was on the mark to wrap up the points.
“There was a determination within the camp that today was the day we were going to win,” said Clarke, who was delighted to answers the doubters about his eighth-placed side’s pedigree.
“It’s been a few weeks since we won a game.
“I don’t think the performances have been that bad.
“We just haven’t managed to get the wins to kick-start the season again.
“Hopefully that’s the one that’s done it.
“We have four more games to try and get as many more as we can.
“Even I’m quite happy tonight – but I’m not complacent because I want more – and the players know.
“My players know we don’t just want to drift."
He added: “People have been knocking us, saying we’re this and that, we can’t win and we’ve had a terrible run, and the form is of a team in a relegation battle.
“Everyone keeps saying if the season was based on the second half we’d be in the bottom three.
“But people forget that before Christmas we were Champions League – that’s how good we were.
“And we deserve a little bit of credit for that, which I don’t think we’ve had.
“If you look at the season as a whole; 48 points for this club is a good tally with four games to go.
“And I think we deserve a little bit more credit than we get.
“Somebody told me people were saying how poor we’d been.
“You can’t judge us on three months, judge us on the whole season!”
The south coast encounter was played in a good spirit but the final 20 minutes saw three red cards, with Marc-Antoine Fortune’s sending-off sandwiched by substitute Gaston Ramirez’ and Danny Fox’s for the hosts.
And Clarke, who insisted he had no qualms with any of referee Robert Madley’s decisions, was adamant the match should be remembered for his team’s outstanding display on the road.
He said: “The referee refereed the game well.
“The red cards were clear red cards.
“I have no complaints.
“But I don’t think the game will be looked at for the three red cards, unless you guys write about the three red cards!
“Write about the fantastic football West Bromwich Albion played.
“How many teams have come here and played like that, and won like that this season?
“It’s a difficult place to come; they’re a good team.
“They have good players.
“We came down here and put on almost a perfect away performance.
“I think we deserve credit for that.”