Club News

Clarke: We must be more on guard

And boss gives his verdict on Swans manager Laudrup as he eyes similar cup joy

STEVE Clarke hopes his players have learned their lessons from their previous encounter against Swansea as the two teams prepare to meet again at The Hawthorns tomorrow (ko 3pm).

The Baggies arrived at the Liberty Stadium in November on the back of a club-best four successive wins in the Barclays Premier League.

But the Swans blitzed them with three goals in the opening 39 minutes before Romelu Lukaku grabbed a late first-half consolation to make the final score 3-1.

Clarke has now urged his men to set the record straight, knowing a ninth home victory this term will see them leapfrog their Welsh counterparts in the table.

“It was a disappointment down there because it came on the back of four fantastic wins for us,” said the Albion boss.

“We had had a great month and I think it just rocked us a little bit.

“But you have to take your hat off to Swansea.

“In the first 30 minutes that night I thought they were unplayable.

“That is probably as good as anybody has played against us all season, so that gives us something to get our teeth into and a little incentive to make sure we get a better result this weekend.

“They’re a good side. You look at their name, and the fact this is their second season in the division, and people can think ‘it’s only Swansea’.

“But that’s wrong. They are a really good team with really good players.

“They have a way of playing that has developed over the last four or five years with a lot of the same players still there, and there are some really good additions this year, so they are a team to be respected.

“I’d like to think that our players are more on their guard, that they know what to expect from Swansea.

“They know the type of football they play and I would like to think that they do cast their mind back to that game, learn some lessons from it, and make sure we’re ready this week.

"We will be looking at different things and different ideas. Hopefully we can find away that is slightly different to how we've played against them before and will cause them a few problems, and this time we can get a better result.

Clarke has praised the impact Michael Laudrup has had in his first season as a boss in English football after leaving the hotseat at Mallorca.

The former Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid player guided his team to their first-ever major honour by lifting the Capital One Cup last month - something the Albion boss hopes to emulate at The Hawthorns.

“Michael has done well," the Baggies chief insisted.

"He’s an experienced manager. It’s not his first job.

“He’s had other good jobs, he’s always done okay, and he has used the Spanish market, that he knew well, to add to his squad with De Guzman, Michu, Flores and Hernandez, and he has adapted very well to the Premier League.

“He has understood the teams and the way his team need to play to get results.

“So compliments to him."

Clarke added: “We've been neck and neck all season in the league.

"They managed to put together a cup run.

"We had hoped we would do this year but didn't manage to do.

"Hopefully that will give us a target for next year because you see the sort of accolades they have received.

"They get all the headlines, and deservedly so, because they have managed to win one of the few domestic trophies going around - and that's what we have to aim for here at Albion."