Defender was impressed with Clarke from the get-go
GARETH McAuley says Steve Clarke has more than met his high expectations of the head coach – which rocketed from his very first conversation with the Scot.
The 49-year-old took the time to call each and every member of his first-team squad following his appointment last summer.
Albion have since recorded their highest-ever Barclays Premier League points total – with four fixtures remaining.
And McAuley, who has continued to thrive this term, revealed Clarke predicted the Baggies would have a memorable campaign during his introduction.
“The gaffer phoned everyone and spoke to them which was a nice touch,” said McAuley.
“It was reassuring and once we got in we knew we were going to have to work hard.
“I had not long finished playing golf while on holiday in Portugal when he called.
“He told me to get my rest in because when we get back in we’re going to be working hard.
“He said we’d got a great season ahead of us and he was right about that.
“He’s been fantastic since he came into the club."
Clarke worked alongside Sir Bobby Robson, Jose Mourinho and Kenny Dalglish before taking the Hawthorns hotseat.
McAuley believes the former-Chelsea right-back’s wealth of knowledge and experience has stood him in good stead during his debut season as a head coach.
“He’s been in and around top clubs playing European football for a long time,” he added.
“He’s learnt from the best.
“There’s a great wealth of knowledge there.
“He’s intelligent and he studies football.
“He’s very astute in terms of our preparation and we could tell from day one he was going to be good.
“His philosophy is to work hard and he expects 100 per cent from everyone, every day.
“We’re all looking forward to finishing the season on a high and doing the same again next season.
“You look at his CV and see where he has worked in the past and it makes sense.
“He’s built on the groundwork Roy [Hodgson] put in.”