Boss looking forward to putting troubles behind him as he prepares to face former club
STEVE Clarke is relishing the chance to ‘move on’ and focus on football against Liverpool on Monday (ko 8pm) after the club’s recent troubles.
The Baggies boss will return to the club where he was a first-team coach to Kenny Dalglish last season - and has fond memories of his time at Anfield.
But he is hoping Albion can once again upset the odds and follow up their first win on Reds soil for 45 years last term with another victory over Brendan Rodgers' side in front of the live TV cameras.
“It’s been a difficult time for the club,” said Clarke.
“My job is to try and keep the players on an even keel and try and get good performances.
“The biggest disappointment for me was the first 45 minutes against Tottenham last week was as good as we’ve been for a number of weeks but a lot of what has gone on around that has detracted and taken away from that.
“It’s important we focus on the football side and the fact we are starting to show a few signs we’re getting back to the form pre-Christmas.
“I would think at some point some players have been distracted by what has gone on, other players have just got on with it, and maybe different players have been distracted at different times.
“It hasn’t been ideal for us.
"And it hasn’t been a good six weeks since the turn of the year results-wise.
“But, in football, you’ve always got the next game and it’s a fantastic game to look forward to on Monday night at Anfield.”
He added: “I’m looking forward to it.
“I had a great 18 months at Liverpool football club.
“I made a lot of friends and have a lot of good memories from my time there.
“I look forward to going back.
“Hopefully West Brom can get the same result as they did last year at Anfield.
“I’m not surprised at all to see some of the youngsters coming through there and some of the more experienced ones that Kenny signed as well.
“It can take a period of time for people to settle into a club the size of Liverpool.
“Stewart Downing is in the team, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique, and Luis Suarez has really settled into the club now.
“I think at this stage Liverpool are probably playing the best football in the Premier League.
“They had a difficult start but now they have picked up and are doing really well.
“It’s going to be a tough night for us.”
Clarke admits it has been a testing time for him after only seven months in his first job as a head coach.
But he has taken it in his stride and is confident his players will deal with matters in a professional manner.
He said: “You couldn’t be prepared for the events that have happened here, certainly in the last ten days I don’t think you could be prepared for that.
“It’s nice to see there have been apologies and everyone wants to move on.
“The most important thing for us from a football point of view is that we want to move on.
“You can’t stand still, you can’t keep looking back – we have to move on.
“Me and the players will deal with it.
“Some players will deal with it in their own way, which will be different from someone else and different from me.
“But we’ll all deal with it together and move forward.
“Because at the end of the day, we’re all professionals and I’ve got to get the best out of the group I’ve got.
“That means playing football matches, playing well and getting points.
“That’s the only way to go forward.”