Head coach hoping to ally quality with commitment in quest to entertain
STEVE Clarke has learned one thing about his players already – they won’t go missing when the chips are down.
The new head coach is slowly but surely exerting his influence on the squad and his preparation work for the new Barclays Premier League campaign continues at Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon (ko 3pm).
He will be without former Owl Chris Brunt for the friendly with the newly-promoted Championship outfit but could give new boy Claudio Yacob his first run-out.
Clarke is delighted to be building on strong foundations, claiming the ‘never-say-die’ attitude that swept Albion to their highest league finish in 31 years is evident – even in training!
His main task now is ensuring that Albion’s other qualities come to the fore after reiterating his pledge to play entertaining football.
“I believe the players can be as competitive as they were last season, absolutely,” said Clarke.
“I’ve got a really good bunch of players.
“They’ve got a fantastic spirit and a never-say-die attitude.
“They’re also very, very competitive.
“Whenever they’re in a competitive situation, even in training, they’re really up for it.
“I also think there’s a lot of quality in the group, too.
“We’ve been working hard with them in pre-season, trying to get those qualities to come to the fore.
“Hopefully, as the season progresses, people will start to see that we have got good players here and we can play good football.
“It’s not just about being committed, but, in any game, that is the first thing you need – commitment and desire.
“When I came in here, one of the first things l said to them is that I’m not going to ask for hard work, because that should be a given for any professional athlete.
“And I have no doubts on that score.
“We’ve just been working on one or two little things in training, like trying to change the team slightly from how it shaped up last year.
“As the season progresses, people will hopefully start to notice subtle differences.
“I think football teams have a duty to try and entertain.
“Of course, the bottom line in professional football is results. It’s a results-driven industry.
“But if you can get good results playing good football, then surely that’s what everybody wants to see.”
Clarke also revealed there is no truth in reports suggesting Sunderland have made a bid for Peter Odemwingie.
“I think you’re always going to have speculation about your good players,” said the head coach.
“It wouldn’t be football otherwise, especially with it being the summer, when the transfer window is open.
“Your good players are always going to be linked with other clubs, but in Peter’s case, there was one bid that came in for him, but it wasn’t from an English club.
“We turned it down – and I think that says enough.”