Clarke insists late arrival had little impact on display
STEVE Clarke claimed Albion’s late arrival at QPR this afternoon did little to derail them from their first double of the season.
Supporters travelling to Loftus Road faced the double whammy of delays on both the London Underground AND roads due to tube drivers taking industrial action and a closure on the nearby A40 respectively.
Matters weren’t helped by the clamour for the Boxing Dale sales at the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre.
And the Baggies’ team coach got caught up in the gridlock, arriving at the West London stadium from their hotel around 30 minutes later than scheduled.
The tube strike led to North London-based Arsenal’s derby against West Ham being postponed well in advance.
However, Albion’s headache was eased by the kick-off being put back 15 minutes.
And Clarke insisted the travel problems had little impact on his team’s pre-match preparations – which was underlined by their gutsy 2-1 victory.
The Baggies have beaten QPR both home and away this season to reach an impressive 33 points at the halfway stage of the season and are sitting pretty in sixth place.
“We did point out to the Premier League that if there was going to be traffic chaos in another part of London for Arsenal against West Ham, there might be traffic chaos in West London with the shopping centre and getting to Loftus Road, but they said we had to play,” said Clarke.
“It took us an hour to travel five miles from our hotel to the stadium!
“But the preparation for the game had already been done at the team meeting at the hotel and my players know their jobs. They knew what they had to do.
“The kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes which helped us a little bit.
“It certainly didn’t affect our performance and it wasn’t a big issue.”
Clarke lost Goran Popov to injury in the first half and saw Jonas Olsson and Youssouf Mulumbu limp off at full-time.
But he said it was too early to speculate on the nature and extent of their problems.
“We finished the game hanging on a little bit as both Jonas and Youssouf had little niggles,” said Clarke.
“It’s too early to say what their injuries are, or how bad they are, but we’ll get them in tomorrow, have a look at them and begin preparing for our trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.”