Club News

Clarke: I'm so excited

Boss buzzing as opener edges closer

STEVE Clarke admits he is finding it hard to contain his excitement as he edges closer to his first competitive game as Baggies boss against Liverpool on Saturday (ko 3pm).

To add extra spice to the Hawthorns encounter the fixture pits him against the club he left in the summer.

It will also see him go head-to-head with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, who succeeded him as Chelsea youth coach in 2004 when he stepped up to be Jose Mourinho’s assistant manager.

The duo got to know each other well over the course of the next four seasons at Stamford Bridge – and now both will be entering into their first Barclays Premier League match in charge of their new clubs.

“I’ve been excited since I got this job,” said Clarke.

“I’ve been looking at August 18 and thinking: ‘Come on let’s get started!’

“We are getting closer and closer so yes the excitement is building.

“Pre-season has been great.

“Obviously when I came in here, I knew the players through the eye of an opponent.

“The six weeks we have had together just gave me a chance to get to know them all a little bit better  - to know their strengths and their weaknesses, the characters in the squad, where the strength of the squad is and what we can do over the coming season.

“And hopefully they have got to know me a little bit better.

“Like I say, roll on the 18th - and let’s get started!”

He added: “Brendan was invited to come to Chelsea by me.

“He took over the youth team from me.

“We worked together for four seasons and I know him well.”

Clarke will today go in front of the media for his first pre-match press conference as Albion chief, with his time at Anfield as first-team coach to Kenny Dalglish sure to be high on the agenda.

But he is eager to keep the focus fixed firmly on the Baggies.

“Obviously the media side is something that I have touched on a little bit in the past but I know it’s going to be a hell of a lot more than I am used to – but I’m ready,” he said.

“It is going to be full on.

"That’s something I will have to learn to deal with.

“And it’s down to me then to try and shape the press conference around Albion and our players.”