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WBA boss Clarke must be brave

TEAMtalk Editor Simon Wilkes believes Steve Clarke must be brave in his team selections following West Brom's summer recruitment drive.

Last Updated: 04/09/13 at 12:49 Post Comment

Steve Clarke: Has been backed by the Baggies board this summer

Steve Clarke: Has been backed by the Baggies board this summer

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It has been quite a rollercoaster ride for West Brom fans so far this season, with Monday's transfer deadline day providing the most recent high.

Albion historically like to do the main bulk of their transfer business in the summer window of opportunity, rarely getting involved in the January sales.

But deals have previously been completed long before Harry Redknapp rolls down his car window and Jim White dons his yellow tie for the last day of the summer window, meaning Albion fans can usually monitor the madness on Sky Sports News with a certain degree of smugness.

That all changed on Monday, September 2 - and from the moment Albion announced the early-morning loan capture of Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano, fans got drawn into the murky world of Twitter updates and transfer clockwatches, updating and checking constantly until the 11pm deadline and beyond.

Deals for Amafitano and goalkeeper Lee Camp were done and dusted with relative ease, while the bid to lure Sunderland forward Stephane Sessegnon to The Hawthorns took all day - and the last-gasp capture of Everton's Victor Anichebe put the icing on the cake.

Head coach Steve Clarke had admitted it "would be much better for my state of mind and for my health" if Albion's hierarchy bolstered his playing staff ahead of the coming months.

And both chairman Jeremy Peace and technical director Richard Garlick deserve credit for a fantastic summer recruitment drive which was sparked into life by the shock arrival of Nicolas Anelka.

Veteran striker Anelka is one of eight new players at Clarke's disposal, with Scott Sinclair, Matej Vydra and Diego Lugano joining the four deadline-day signings on Clarke's playing staff, and Goran Popov returning on loan.

Now it's over to Clarke to lift morale following a sluggish start to the season, which has seen Albion lose two of their opening three Premier League games and fail to find the back of the net in England's top tier.

The Baggies prop up the top-flight table after Sunday's defeat to Swansea - and must now wait until September 14 for a tricky trip to Fulham, where they lost 3-0 last season to end a fine start to the campaign which had seen them topple Liverpool and Everton 3-0 and 2-0 respectively.

If the Cottagers unleash some capital punishment on Albion again, the following home clash against Sunderland will be a must-win game as appointments with Manchester United, Arsenal, Stoke and Liverpool look daunting on paper despite the influx of fresh blood to the squad.

Clarke needs to use the international break to settle on his first-choice starting XI, with Shane Long now unlikely to feature too heavily this season having seen a late move to Hull City fall through at the last minute.

My starting XI would be (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Sinclair, Anelka, Sessegnon; Anichebe.

Anelka was Albion's best player on the pitch against the Swans, but relished dropping into the hole to dictate our attacking play and should be given a licence to roam, with Anichebe providing the physical threat missing from our play since Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea.

This means dropping the ever-present James Morrison to the bench, but fortune favours the brave, and Clarke needs to get his new signings on the pitch to give them time to gel ahead of a long season.

Pick your starting XI using the story comments box - and let me know what you think of Albion's summer window dealings.

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