And boss urges midfielders to ease burden on strikersSTEVE Clarke has backed his new-look strikeforce to deliver this season as he set his team a 50-goal target on the eve of the new Barclays Premier League campaign.
And the Baggies boss has called on his midfielders to chip in with more goals to help ease the burden on hitmen Nicolas Anelka, Shane Long, Matej Vydra and Markus Rosenberg.
“We’ve made two investments already in the forward areas,” said Clarke.
“We’ve brought Nicolas Anelka in who has good experience.
“He’s a different type of player to Romelu Lukaku so he’s not a like-for-like replacement.
“In pre-season Nicolas has shown – all-be-it in friendly matches – he can still get in the box and score goals.
“We’ve brought Matej Vydra to the club. He’s young, enthusiastic and brings us something different.
“He’s scored a lot of goals at Championship level.
“It remains to be seen if he can do that at this level – but we think he will.
“We think he’s got the qualities to do that.
“So between those two players there should be goals.
“Shane Long is now into his third season in the Premier League and he has consistently got around the eight to ten-goal mark.
“We’ll look for Shane to reach that mark and maybe get a few more.
“So, we’ve got plenty of goals.
“Markus Rosenberg has looked sharp in pre-season and has scored a lot of goals, which is good for him and his confidence – he’s got a full pre-season behind him.
“So, in terms of strikers we’ve got at the club right now, I think there are goals there.
“That’s going to be important because we have to score goals.
“If you want to be successful in the Premier League you need to score 50 goals.”
Lukaku finished as last term’s 17-goal top scorer as his eighth-placed team found the back of the net 53 times in the top flight.
And, while Clarke is hopeful Anelka can hit those heights, he believes the former Chelsea man’s ability to create chances will be just as important to his team.
“He’s certainly different from the young Nicolas Anelka,” the Baggies boss added.
“I think there has been a gradual evolution throughout the course of his career.
“Even latterly at Chelsea he was less likely to run behind defences and stretch teams, he was more likely to get on the ball and create things for other people.
“When he plays for us we need him to create for other people - but we also need him to score goals as well and he showed he can do that in pre-season.
“I would love to think there is one of the strikers in the camp who can get between 15 and 20 goals.
“If not, then we need to share it around a little bit.
“Sometimes, when you have a striker you rely on to score you goals you tend not to get the input from other players.
“I think last season, if you look at the goals from midfield, it probably wasn’t enough.
“We scored a lot through the forwards and set-plays – but we probably didn’t get enough from midfield.
“James Morrison, Graham Dorrans, Chris Brunt – I think they’ve got more goals in them than they actually scored last season.
“So it would be nice if everybody could chip in with a few more goals.”