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Clarke: We'll be even better

West Brom boss Steve Clarke is confident his side can emulate their success of last season and has no fears of the so-called second season syndrome.

Last Updated: 17/08/13 at 14:15 Post Comment

Steve Clarke: Confident of a strong start

Steve Clarke: Confident of a strong start

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In his first season in charge, Clarke led West Brom to eighth in the Premier League last term - their best-ever Premier League finish.

The former Chelsea assistant, who is in his first managerial post, will have his work cut out to repeat that feat this season, especially given that striker Romelu Lukaku - scorer of 17 goals for them while on loan from Chelsea last season, but now back with his parent club - is not at their disposal.

But the 49-year-old is optimistic they can maintain last season's form, starting with opening league clash with Southampton at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

"I'm not sure I understand second season syndrome - it is another phrase the media uses," Clarke said. "For me, this is about trying to emulate what we did last season - to be a team that is positive and tries to win football matches.

"The more we can win the more points we will get and with that follows the success for the club. That is all you can do.

"I don't sit here and worry about the fact it is the second season.

"I have learned some lessons from last year and hopefully I can put them into practice this year and you'll see a better and stronger West Bromwich Albion."

Clarke's new additions this summer are strikers Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra and defender Diego Lugano, and he hopes to bring in two or three more players, including Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair.

Asked about specific league targets, Clarke said: "I think it is always dangerous to set targets too early.

"The first target is to try to win on Saturday. I know it is boring, but that is the only way it can be."

Last term, West Brom began by defeating Liverpool 3-0 at home, the first of 10 victories in their opening 19 league fixtures - which were followed by only four in their final 19.

Clarke has stressed that while he is keen for another good start this time out, a bad one should not necessarily be viewed as a disaster, given it is only the points tally at the end of the season that really matters.

"If you win your first few games, it's great - you can push on from there," said Clarke, whose side's two league fixtures after Southampton see them face Everton away and Swansea at home.

"But it is not always possible to do that. So as I said last season - it doesn't matter when you get your points. The only thing that is important in a Premier League season is that you do get your points.

"We will be trying as hard as we can to win our first three games before the next international break and if we can do that, it sets us up for a good season.

"But if we can't do it, it doesn't mean to say you are going to have a bad season, because there are so many games still to be played."

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lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

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