Clarke feels for striker after making full league debut in tough game
STEVE Clarke is convinced that Markus Rosenberg’s proven track record in front of goal will see him hit the net sooner rather than later.
The Sweden international could not have been handed a tougher fixture to make his first league start for the Baggies than Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Stoke.
The visitors stifled Albion’s forward play to a rare extent by denying Rosenberg & Co any space in and around their penalty area.
Rosenberg has been playing catch up with his forward rivals all season due to the lateness of his arrival as a free agent in the summer.
And the form of the likes of Shane Long, Romelu Lukaku and Peter Odemwingie means he has had to wait patiently for a chance.
But Clarke insists Rosenberg has a proven pedigree in Europe's top divisions and has no doubts he will also come good in the Barclays Premier League.
“Markus worked hard on Saturday but it was a game that was difficult for anyone to shine in,” reflected the head coach.
“Markus will score goals, for sure – we've no doubt about that.
“He just didn't get many chances against Stoke. In fact, there were very few chances for anyone – but I was pleased with his contribution.
“He can play in any of the front three positions – left, right or centre – as he showed when he was at Werder Bremen. He can also play behind the striker, as he did on Saturday.”
With first-team chances few and far between so far for Rosenberg – he only has one league start and seven sub appearances to his name – Clarke concedes the former Ajax man is still acclimatising to the Premier League.
But he is adamant the 30-year-old’s qualities will shine through, especially as the forthcoming glut of festive fixtures are likely to increase his game time.
And he has urged Rosenberg to draw comfort from the likes of Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry, who took their time adjusting to the English game before becoming top-flight legends.
“Markus can cope with this league,” added Clarke.
“The problem for Markus is that the boys who have played in the forward positions have done well, so there have been very, very few chances for him.
“But his chance will come over the next six-to-eight weeks.
“It's nice that he's had a league start for the club now. It makes him feel a little bit better and more confident.
“His performances can only improve and he's a fantastic finisher. His goal record wherever he has been bears that out.
“We have no doubts he will score – be it this month, next month.
“Some players just take a while to settle.
“I was at Chelsea when Drogba first came. In his first season, he was good but wasn't great.
“It also took Henry a year or so.
“It can take a while, especially for strikers who have to find different ways to find their space in the game.
“But Markus can do that. He is intelligent.”