Club News

Clarke in 'land of no sleep'

But boss says he has 'good idea' of starting XI

STEVE Clarke says he has a ‘good idea’ of his starting line-up for tomorrow’s top-flight opener against Liverpool (ko 3pm) – but admits he is now officially a member of the ‘no sleep club’.

The Baggies boss will take charge of his first-ever game as a head coach when he takes on his former employers at The Hawthorns.

And after putting his stamp on the squad over the summer, including five new signings, he believes Albion have the potential to top last season’s best-ever Barclays Premier League finish of tenth.

“I have noticed the sleep time does get cut a little bit because you’re waking up and, boom, you’re mind is racing again,” said Clarke.

“There are one or two people who have told me ‘welcome to the land of no sleep’ when you’re in this job.

“I’ve got a good idea what I want to do at the weekend and we’ll build on that.

“It is a squad game, it is no longer just about 11 - you need a good squad.

“I think I’ve got a good squad.

“I’d like to think surpassing last season’s achievement in the league is possible.

“You have to see how the other teams shape up because they might strengthen as well.

“It’s not always the case in the Premier League that because you did well last year you will do well the following year.

“Every team in the Premier League is trying to strengthen and everyone will spend and invest.

“With the chairman and Dan we’ve managed to do that this year as well.

“We think the squad is healthy and competitive – time will tell.”

With Brendan Rodgers in the opposite dugout, tomorrow’s game will see two of Jose Mourinho’s former staff go head to head.

And Clarke expects the ‘Special One’ to be watching with interest from afar, especially as the trio all spent time together at Stamford Bridge.

“I first came across Brendan years ago when I was on a coaching course,” the Albion chief added.

“He was a really young boy then and I was young as well!

“He impressed me then in his manner and enthusiasm for the game.

“Everything he’s done since then hasn’t surprised me.

“I’ve never been the guy to sit down and pick a team for a game before.

“So I’ve got a little advantage in I know how Brendan shapes his teams up from wherever he’s been – Watford, Reading and Swansea.

“You know what to expect from a Brendan Rodgers team – but it doesn’t make it any easier to stop it.

“I spoke to Brendan on a number of occasions this summer – but not recently.

“I went up to see Liverpool play FC Gomel in the Europa League qualifier but I didn’t get chance to meet up with Brendan.

“Before the game tomorrow we probably won’t speak, we’ll just say ‘hello’.

“After the game we’ll talk about what’s happened on the pitch.

“I’m sure Jose is watching from afar, he’s always kept in touch with ex-colleagues.

“He always drops me a little text message every now and then – and I’ll let you know if I get one before the game.”