And skipper says competition for players is a necessity
CHRIS Brunt believes Steve Clarke’s record at Albion speaks for itself – as the head coach prepares for his 50th league game in charge of the club.
The Hawthorns chief guided the Baggies to eighth place in the Barclays Premier League last term – their highest top-flight finish in 32 years.
Should his side overcome Villa at home tomorrow night (ko 8pm), Clarke will have exactly the same win ratio as predecessor Roy Hodgson, who registered 18 wins during his 50 league games as Albion boss.
And Brunt, who is now in his seventh season at the club, is looking forward to continuing his time under Clarke.
“I think the results and where we finished in the league last year speak for itself,” said Brunt.
“I think following Roy [Hodgson] was always going to be a hard act to follow.
“The gaffer has stepped in and done it with no problems.
“As players, we enjoy working with him in training and the games.
“We have had some great results.
“We have had some big performances against bigger teams and we are closing that gap.
“A lot of that is down to the gaffer and the coaching staff.
“The club has made it clear they are going to speak to him about a new contract in the New Year.
“I for one enjoy working with the gaffer and I’d like that to continue.
“He has taken the club on.”
Brunt has started 174 league games for the Baggies since arriving from Sheffield Wednesday in August 2007.
And, though he admits not always featuring in Albion’s starting XI can be frustrating, accepts competition for places can only aid the club’s progression.
“It’s difficult because for nearly ten years as a pro, I’ve been a regular wherever I’ve been,” added Brunt.
“This year, I’ve had time on the sidelines watching the games and it’s been frustrating.
“As a footballer, you want to play every game because you think you can add something.
“But you have to respect the head coach’s decision.
“He picks a team to go out on a Saturday to go and win the game.
“This league is mentally and physically challenging so to have extra bodies around the squad is a great thing for the coaching staff to have.
“I want to play every game, but sometimes it’s just not possible.
“Over the last few months, I’ve experienced that.
“But if you look at the big teams, they have big squads and lots of good players and, if we want to get better, that’s what we must aim for.
“We are starting to do that.”