Club News

Clarke: Sending-off changed game

But boss insists there were plenty of positives in first-half display against Spurs

STEVE Clarke admitted he was fuming with Goran Popov for getting sent-off in today’s 1-0 defeat by Tottenham – but insisted there were plenty of positives to take from Albion's first-half performance.

The ninth-placed Baggies were unfortunate not to be ahead at half-time as they showed signs of getting back to their impressive early season form.

But the Hawthorns encounter dramatically swung the hosts’ way three minutes after the break when Macedonia international, Popov, was given his marching orders by referee Mark Clattenburg for spitting at Kyle Walker.

And the visitors' inevitable second-half pressure against ten men finally paid off when Gareth Bale thundered home a 67th-minute winner.

"I'm absolutely disgusted with Goran's behaviour," said Clarke.

"One of the group has let himself, the players, supporters and the club down.

“Of course the sending-off changes the game.

“It’s difficult enough in the Barclays Premier League playing against 11 players, especially when you’re playing against a good team like Tottenham.

“It changed the whole complexion of the game.

“There is no excuse and no place for it in life, let alone on a football pitch.

“I haven’t had a one-on-one conversation with Goran, we spoke about it after the game as a group.

“I like to think at some stage he will apologise.

“There will be disciplinary procedures taken against him and that will remain in-house as always.”

The Baggies boss added: “I thought in the first half we were the better team.

“We showed signs of our old self; the way we were pre-Christmas.

“It’s been a difficult run for us and a difficult week for us – but we felt the game was a chance to get ourselves back on an even keel.

“The events at the start of the second half were so disappointing for us because we felt this was a chance to get our season back on track.

“The first half performance showed that.

“If any team was going to score in the first half it was us.

“We had a good control of the game.

“When I calm down a little bit and I go away from here I think I’ll be able to take away a lot of positives from the performance when we were 11 v 11 against a very good Tottenham team.”

Popov now faces a three-match ban for his red card and will miss the games against Liverpool, Sunderland and Chelsea.

And Clarke vented his frustration that his team was left to play virtually half the game with ten men.

“I’m angry because it was a game we could get a positive result to get us back on an even keel,” he said.

“January wasn’t a good month for us.

“We identified this game, changed the shape of the team and the way we played and I thought in the first half it was working really well.

“So, you can understand the frustration I’ve got that we’ve come away with nothing again.

“You can never say Goran’s cost us the game but that incident happened when we were the best team in the game.

“You have to think you can build on that and go on and get the result we were after.

“I didn’t know what he’d done but I knew a referee like Mark Clattenburg would not have produced a red card unless it was something that warranted a red card.

“I haven’t given Goran a chance to speak yet, I spoke!”