Club News

Clarke: Let's finish how we started

And Baggies boss calls for reality check when assessing season

STEVE Clarke will send his players out against Manchester United tomorrow (ko 4pm) with the message: “We started the season on a high, lets finish on a high.”

The eighth-placed Baggies kicked of their record breaking campaign with a stunning 3-0 win over Liverpool at The Hawthorns.

And he is confident his men will pick themselves up from the disappointment of losing the last three games to test the champions in front of a sell-out crowd.

“We’ll do our upmost to get points from the game as we have done all season,” said Clarke.

“Our home form has been decent and we look to finish on a high.

“We started the season on a high against Liverpool and we’ll look to end it on a high at home to the champions.

“I know with this group of players I will get a response.

“They’re a group of players who know how to respond to adversity.

“They know how to get results in the Premier League, which is why we are where we are in the table.”

The Baggies have only won once in their last eight games.

But Clarke believes his players should be proud of a campaign that has seen them post a club record for the most points in a Barclays Premier League season (48) – and always remain in the top half of the table.

He added: “Everyone is making a big thing about the bad run we’ve had recently, which is correct.

“We’re not happy with it either but I think everyone else has to put a sense of perspective on where we are as a club, what we’re trying to do and where we’re trying to get to.

“It’s another year of improvement - that’s three years in a row.

“And I think this group of players deserve a little bit of credit for that.

“At any stage in the season there will come a dip.

“The thing we should be happy with is our dip came when we’d already secured our objective, which was to be in the Premier League again.

“There have been some mitigating factors in the second half of the season that haven’t helped us – the loss of key players, the loss of form of key players, and the loss of form to key players probably coming about through fatigue because the squad gets stretched.

“If you lose your focus one per cent in this league, you struggle.

“For a club our size and the team we have, if we lose focus by one per cent we’re not the same team.

“But there are a number of other clubs bigger than us who would like to have been in that position – and they haven’t, they have been hanging around the bottom of the table - and there were a lot of teams
involved this year.

“We haven’t been involved in that scrap all season and we’re finishing in the top half of the table again.

“I think sometimes there needs to be a little bit of a reality check.

“This team, this group of players for West Bromwich Albion have been really good.”