Club News

Steve looking for winning return

Clarke reflects fondly on his Toon spell with Sir Bobby

STEVE Clarke hopes his players can continue their good run of form in the North East with a positive result at Newcastle tomorrow (ko 3pm).

The Baggies are unbeaten in their last three visits to St James’ Park and earned an impressive 3-2 victory over Alan Pardew’s side last season.

Clarke, who started his coaching career under Ruud Gullit and then Sir Bobby Robson at Newcastle, believes his team can come away with a positive result – providing they continue to play with confidence. 

“Newcastle is a great place to go and play,” said the head coach.

“Footballers like to play in front of an audience.

“The good players like to go into a hostile atmosphere, which is what you get when you go to St James’ Park, and show how good they are.

“You need your players to be men on the pitch and you need personality out there. You also need confidence in your own ability to get a result.

“Winning there last year was good for the team and we will look to continue that.

“The players who won there last year will know they are capable of going up there and getting a good result for the club.

“First and foremost, we have to be determined and make sure we are going to put on a good performance. If you do that, the results follow.”

Clarke was Gullit’s assistant manager at St James’ Park and took charge of one game - a defeat at Manchester United - following his departure in 1999.

That was his only game in control of a team, albeit in a caretaker capacity, before being appointed as Albion head coach this summer.

Clarke then teamed up with Sir Bobby Robson and insists he learned a lot from the former England manager.

“I had a great time at Newcastle," he said.

“It was very early in the development of my career as a coach.

“It was my first two years out of playing and I made some wonderful friends up there.

“I still keep in touch with them.

“Being in charge of that one game was such a whirlwind - the events that happened, from Ruud leaving the club to trying to get the place back together after the Tyne-Wear derby, which we lost at St James’.

“That never goes down very well - and then the next game was Man Utd away!"

Clarke added: “I was lucky to work with Sir Bobby for a year and I took a lot from the way he dealt with and managed the players.

“He was great to me because he knew I was a young coach who wanted to learn. He sat me in on some of the meetings when he was one-to-one with a player.

“He would have me there to watch and observe and see how he spoke to and dealt with players. That was absolutely invaluable for me.

“It was just his manner and way of getting the best out of players.

“As a manager, there is not just one way to get the best out of a number of different people.

“There are a number of different ways to do it and Bobby seemed to have the gift of being able to recognise and understand what sort of motivational tool he had to use each time.”