Clarke will use memory of Cottage defeat to motivate players
STEVE Clarke has revealed he will use the memory of September’s beating on the banks of the Thames as motivation in his team’s quest to kick off 2013 with a win.
Clarke suffered his first-ever Barclays Premier League defeat as a head coach when, in his fourth game in charge, Albion’s ten men lost 3-0 at today’s opponents Fulham.
There were mitigating factors, with the Baggies, who had amassed an impressive seven points from three tough opening fixtures, having Peter Odemwingie red-carded for violent conduct in the 38th minute with the score at 1-0.
But Clarke had no complaints after the game, saying his team got what they deserved.
And the Hawthorns boss will ensure that unsavoury early-season experience in West London is fresh in his players’ minds ahead of today’s live TV game (ko 12.45pm) to give them added incentive as they bid for an eighth win at B71.
A sell-out home crowd will hope Clarke’s men can extend their record of never losing to Fulham at The Hawthorns in the Premier League while the 14th-placed visitors will be aiming to end a run of one victory in 12 matches.
“I think going into the Fulham game we have to bear in mind that earlier this season they turned us over,” said Clarke.
“They are one of the few sides who have really beaten us this season. They beat us comfortably.
“It is a little bit surprising to see where they are but I'm sure they'll look back on their performance against us and hope they can replicate that and move back up the table.
“I will remind the players of how poorly we played in that game. We were poor down at Fulham.
“I will remind them of that but also remind them of how well we've done this season.
“If we can show the home form we've shown this season, I'm sure we can start the New Year off with a positive result.”
When asked by the media about whether he has revised his targets for 2012/13 now that the team already have 33 points on the board, Clarke stuck to his season-long mantra.
He insists the widely-regarded safety target of 40 points remains his solitary goal as the club enter a new calendar year – and he won’t even be taking that for granted.
“Three weeks ago, people were telling us that we couldn't score a goal or win a game,” quipped Clarke.
“We lost three in a row and didn't score for five hours so, in this game, things can turn very quickly.
“We still have seven points to get before we reach our first target and it would be remiss of us to get ahead of ourselves at this stage having played it down all season.
“We need to make sure we get to that target.
“The second target – if you want to go back to my very first press conference as Albion head coach – was to achieve 50 points.
“But first we will try to get to 40, and then 50. But before then, I want three points against Fulham.”