Club News

Clarke expecting 'difficult' day

New boss hoping to out-do Toffees' long-serving chief

STEVE Clarke is aiming to make life as ‘difficult’ for Everton as he expects them to make it for his team when the two sides meet tomorrow (ko 3pm).

The Baggies boss will be hoping his players can deliver him a belated birthday present after turning 49 on Wednesday.

And the Hawthorns clash will perhaps provide fourth-placed Albion with their toughest test yet as they take on an in-form Toffees team directly above them in the Barclays Premier League table, courtesy of wins over Manchester United and Villa.

“Everton have had a solid start, with a great first performance at home to Manchester United,” said Clarke.

“I was there that night and Goodison Park was rocking, there was a great atmosphere, a terrific performance and a well deserved three points.

“I watched the DVD of the game at Villa, they scored early and controlled the game really well.

"David Moyes has been there a long time, so he knows what he needs.

“He has made some really astute signings over the last year which has improved his team and his squad, and they will be one of the teams who realistically can look to challenge towards the top six this year.

“They have started well but they have got good players.

“They are a good solid club, they always do their business well, they are always competitive and we expect a difficult game.

“But I'm hoping Everton are coming down to The Hawthorns expecting a difficult game as well because that is what we aim to do, is make it really difficult for them.”

The top-flight encounter will also provide an interesting backdrop for two bosses who have taken very different routes to the top – and are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of time served in the hotseat.

Clarke landed his big opportunity in the summer after more than ten years as a first-team coach or assistant manager in the top flight, while David Moyes has climbed the managerial ladder – starting in 1998 with Preston in League Two.

He celebrated ten years at Goodison Park in March and the Baggies boss is a big fan of what his fellow Scot has achieved.

“David has done really well and you can’t really praise him enough,” Clarke insisted.

“He chose a different route from me.

"He chose when he finished playing to go almost straight into management and he was straight into the lower leagues, learning his trade at Preston.

“He has stepped on from there and has done a great job at Everton.

“I like bumping into David whenever I go to matches and it doesn’t matter what game you go to, David is always there!

“He’s got a great enthusiasm for the game and he’s always been good to me.

“We’ve always had good conversations and he speaks well about the game"

He added: “It doesn’t surprise me he hasn’t moved to a so-called big club because Everton is a really good club and I’m sure the people at Everton don’t want to let him go to these bigger clubs.

“But I’m sure when all the big jobs come up David's name is discussed.”