And club legend discusses decade since Hawthorns departure
‘SUPER BOB’ Taylor has praised the job Steve Clarke has done during his first season as a No.1 – as he reflected on the progress the club has made in the decade since he left The Hawthorns.
The 46-year-old netted the all-important second goal in Albion’s 2-0 triumph over Crystal Palace in the final game of the 2001/02 campaign – securing the Baggies a return to the top flight after a 16-year wait.
Taylor joined Cheltenham Town the following summer – but not before 16,017 Albion supporters turned out to thank their hero in a testimonial game at The Hawthorns.
In the ensuing seven years, the club experienced the agony and ecstasy of two promotions and two relegations - and ‘Super Bob’ is overjoyed the Baggies have now stabilised under head coach Clarke.
“It’s encouraging that as a club we are now looking at top-ten finishes,” said Taylor.
“We’ve been in the top 11 for the last three seasons now.
“It’s brilliant to see the progression since that first promotion and it’s nice to know I was a part of something that has evolved into where we are now.
“There has been a relegation or two since then but we have raised the bar in terms of standards and expectations.”
PIC: THAT GOAL... Taylor celebrates after securing Albion's promotion to the Premier League with a strike against Crystal Palace at The Hawthorns
Albion collected 49 points during a record-breaking 2012/13 campaign – their highest in the top flight since 1980/81 – as they finished eighth in the Premier League.
And Taylor believes the club’s success last season, following on from a tenth-place finish under Roy Hodgson in 2011/12, is testament to Clarke’s man-management of key players.
“Steve Clarke has come in having done the rounds as an assistant at some big clubs,” added Taylor.
“He has clearly taken things on board from some of the managers he has worked with.
“He has now brought his own style to the club and I’m sure some of that came from when he was a player.
“You could say he inherited some good players, which he did, but you also have to get those players working for you.
“Players don’t always see eye-to-eye with managers and vice versa.
“He had to make that step and make it quickly - and he’s done brilliantly.”