And boss says there is no pressure on his players heading to Old Trafford
STEVE Clarke heads to Old Trafford for his 50th game as Albion boss on Saturday (ko 3pm), insisting his players should hold no fear on the champions’ turf.
The Hawthorns boss will send his troops out in search of the Baggies’ first league win at Manchester United since 1978.
But he says his players can go there without any pressure, with the weight of expectation firmly on the hosts’ shoulders.
“I've never been afraid of going to Old Trafford,” said Clarke, who has revealed he will make at least six or seven changes to the side that lost after extra-time and penalties to Arsenal in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.
“You have to relish it - it's fantastic.
“You go there, you go on the pitch, look at the crowd, it makes you feel good.
“It should make you ready to play the best you can.
“I don't hold with the fear factor or the thought that you should go to these places and be intimidated.
“You should go there and relish the challenge.
“I never understand why people would ask a professional whether they’re going anywhere to win or not.
“As a professional, I think I’m going to win every single game I go into.
“If I don’t think that, how can I convince the players.
“And I hope every player I’ve got goes to Old Trafford with the same feeling as me – that we can win the game.
“It’s a game where the pressure is not on us because everyone expects Manchester United to beat us.
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t expect to go there and do well.
“Maybe 99 per cent of the country don’t expect us to go there and do well.
“But we expect to go there and get a good result.”
Clarke will bring up his half-century of matches as head coach on the back of draws at Everton and Fulham in Albion’s last two outings on the road – and a thumping 3-0 Barclays Premier League home win over Sunderland last weekend.
But he knows the Red Devils will be dangerous customers having bounced back from their 4-1 derby drubbing by Manchester City with a midweek Capital One Cup victory over Liverpool.
“I've enjoyed the 50 games and think I've done okay,” he added.
“I don't know if it makes a good career yet but I look forward to the next 50.
“We're determined to continue our good away form.
“I went to watch the game last Sunday and United couldn't get a foothold in it until they were 4-0 down.
“But United have had setbacks before and always bounce back.
“We’ll look to put on a good performance.
“We go full of hopes and full of dreams.
“They have already bounced back from the City reverse. That's what the top teams do.
“We are only thinking about ourselves and when you go to a place like Old Trafford, you need to play at your best.
“We need to play to our maximum and keep concentrating to get a result.”