Chelsea v West Brom: Steve Clarke prepares to face former boss Jose Mourinho for the first time as a manager

The Baggies boss worked under the Special One during Mourinho's first spell in charge

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Steve Clarke goes head to head with his old friend and former boss Jose Mourinho for the first time this weekend insisting his West Brom side's clash with Chelsea is solely about picking up points.

Clarke has not seen his Portuguese mentor for more than five years since their highly successful spell at Chelsea together ended in 2008.

Mourinho appointed the Scottish coach as his assistant manager at Stamford Bridge before the pair went on to win two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups together.

While Mourinho left England for spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Clarke spent time as assistant manager at West Ham and Liverpool before making the step up to management at West Brom in 2012.

His maiden campaign was an impressive one as Albion finished eighth in the Barclays Premier League and he will be reunited with Mourinho at Stamford Bridge as equals on Saturday.

"Jose sent me a text this week asking if I needed any tickets for the game, which was nice of him," said Clarke.

"My lad has his season ticket so he'll be watching from the Chelsea end. There are no big issues and I didn't need any tickets from him.

"The friendship is good. I don't speak to him every week or text him every week but the friendship is good. When you've worked with somebody closely you build a bond and you take that bond with you for the rest of your life.

"I haven't seen him for well over five years. So it will be nice to catch up with him face to face rather than just little text messages."

Clarke was wary of the attention being placed on their relationship ahead of the match.

"My job now is head coach of West Bromwich Albion," he said. I want to prepare my team well for the game, I want to get a positive result for Albion.

"This weekend Jose is in the opposition dug-out but it doesn't change our preparation or what we want to get from the game.

"I said before that Chelsea is a big part of my career. I was there for a long time as a player and as a coach. But I have to be selfish and this weekend is about West Bromwich Albion for me."

Clarke sees no reason to make an issue of his ties with the Blues.

"Victory wouldn't mean anything to me other than the fact it's another three points for the Albion. It would be a good scalp to take, winning at Stamford Bridge and beating Chelsea, but that's it.

"There is no added incentive whatsoever."

Chelsea lost to Newcastle in the Premier League last weekend and Clarke is unsure whether that will make his side's task harder as the Blues look to bounce back.

"It's unusual for teams who are going to compete for the title to lose back-to-back Premier League games so that's our challenge," he said.

"They did play this week and won against Schalke in the Champions League so they've had a game to get last weekend's defeat out of their system.

"It wouldn't have necessarily made it easier for us if they had won at Newcastle, it's still going to be a difficult game."

Former Chelsea winger Scott Sinclair is unlikely to be back from a long-standing hamstring injury in time for the game against his former club.

Victor Anichebe has fully recovered from a hamstring problem himself but Nicolas Anelka is doubtful with a groin issue.

Right-back Billy Jones (hamstring) joins Zoltan Gera and Ben Foster on the absentee list.