Clarke's joint-assistant encouraged by Pride Park success
KEVIN Keen claimed Albion are right on track with their Barclays Premier League preparations as the coaching staff continued to experiment during today’s 2-0 win at Derby.
Goals in each half from Graham Dorrans and sub Markus Rosenberg earned Steve Clarke’s side a deserved victory at Pride Park.
Clarke largely utilised a 4-2-3-1 system last season but set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation as Albion returned to action on English soil after returning from their pre-season training camp in Austria.
And Keen, Clarke’s joint-assistant head coach, was encouraged by the signs he saw during the Baggies’ second successive pre-season victory.
“It was a really good workout and a good pre-season game for us,” he said.
“With Derby starting their season next week, they were up for it. It was a good test for us and we stood up to some of their play really well.
“Graham scored a spectacular goal and Markus nicked another one, so that’s three in pre-season for him if you count the training match against Tamworth.
“Things are looking quite good at the moment.
“Are we where we want to be at this stage? Pretty much so, yes. Certainly in terms of the players’ fitness. You could see today they’re looking quite strong.
“It terms of tactics and the things we’re trying to work on for the season, it wasn’t bad today.
“As we go into the next two or three games, we’ll input a bit more in terms of set pieces and formation. But we’re quite pleased with where we are at the moment.
“With the players we’ve got, 4-4-2 suits us.
“I think Nico [Anelka] and Shane [Long] can work as a two up front. We see things in training every day and we’re hopeful it could be a good combination.
“But Markus has also looked really bright during pre-season. He and the young lad Saido [Berahino] both came on and did well.
“We’ve got two pairs of attacking players who can excite the crowd.”
However, Keen said it was far too early for supporters to begin drawing conclusions regarding which team Clarke will kick off the season with against Southampton in three weeks.
“I don’t think Steve’s decided ‘this is how we’re going to go for the season. This is my front pairing. This is my midfield four’,” he added.
“For example, we started without Claudio [Yacob] and he’s our defensive rock. It was just good to have a little look without him because at times this year we may be without him.”
Another factor in Clarke’s team selection for the big kick-off on August 17 will be the hopeful arrival of new players.
“We’re possibly a little bit thin on the ground,” admitted Keen.
“We’ve had a few players go out and the club are working extremely hard in the background to try to bring in a couple of new bodies of real quality that are going to excite the fans, similar to when Nico came in, when everyone went ‘wow, how’s he signed for West Brom?’.
“We’re hopeful that things will come off but we’ll see over the next few weeks.
“We certainly need a couple of players and Richard [Garlick] and the Chairman are working very hard to try and bring in new recruits.”