Club News

Clarke: We owe the fans

And Baggies boss insists his players must improve performance to compete with Swans

STEVE Clarke will send his players out against Swansea at The Hawthorns on Sunday (ko 1.30pm), insisting: We owe the fans.

The Baggies chief recognises his team’s performance in the 1-0 home defeat against Southampton on the opening day left the fans disappointed.

And, after a hard-fought goalless draw at Everton and midweek Capital One Cup victory over Newport, he is looking for a big improvement on home turf in the Barclays Premier League.

“We need to improve because we’re playing against a very good side in Swansea, who have again invested a lot of money in their squad,” said Clarke, whose men finished one place and three points above the Swans last term.

“The players are desperate because we know we didn’t give the supporters enough in the first game and we want to make sure the supporters have something to shout about this weekend.

“We know how Swansea play.

“We went down there last season on a run of four wins, got caught a little bit short, and they beat us comfortably.

“We had a good, competitive game against them at The Hawthorns and we managed to shade it 2-1.

“I think over the course of the season between ourselves and Swansea it was pretty much honours even, even down to the final league positions when we shaded it by one place.”

Michael Laudrup’s men have lost their opening two top-flight games 4-1 at home to champions Manchester United and 1-0 at Tottenham.

They last night travelled to Romanian side Petrolul Plooiesti, losing 2-1 but booked their place in the Europa League group stages thanks to a 6-3 aggregate victory.

Clarke added: “Swansea are a very good team.

“They obviously need a bigger squad this year because they were good enough to win the Capital One Cup, which was great for them.

“Now they have the bonus of being involved in the Europa League, which is great for any club – I don’t care what anybody says – it’s a great competition and I’d like to be involved in it myself one day.

“They’ve built the squad a little bit more, have a certain way of playing, play good football, they’re attractive and are difficult to play against.

“They’ve had a tough start against two difficult teams to play against – and hopefully on Sunday we can make that three.

“I went down to White Hart Lane last week to watch them play Tottenham and I thought they were good.

“They were a little bit unfortunate not to get anything from that game.

“So we know we need to be at our best on Sunday - and hopefully we will be.”