Steve Clarke has proved himself at West Brom says James Morrison

Clarke succeeded Roy Hodgson

Click to follow
The Independent Football

West Brom midfielder James Morrison has hailed the impact made by head coach Steve Clarke in successfully filling Roy Hodgson's role after he left the Hawthorns to take charge of England.

Clarke faced his first senior role in management with Albion after being number two at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool.

The Scot had a hard act to follow in Hodgson, who guided Albion to a top-10 finish in the Barclays Premier League last season.

But Morrison believes he has proved already to be up to the task, with Albion lying in seventh spot after a 2-1 home win over Swansea.

Morrison, Albion's official man of the match against the Swans, said: "Look where we are. The gaffer has done fantastic.

"Roy did a fantastic job here but Steve came in, made some good signings, and also had a good group of players.

"Everyone who steps on that pitch gives 100% and that has been the key of this season.

"At the start of pre-season he said he wasn't going to change much because it didn't need changing.

"He tinkered a little bit, but that was about passing the ball a bit more and getting up the pitch a bit more. It seemed to work."

Clarke has played down Albion's chances of qualifying for Europe but Morrison, who reached the UEFA Cup final when with Middlesbrough, believes it is possible.

He said: "Can we make Europe? I think so. It depends how many points we pick up. We are not going to get carried away because it's a tough nine games to go.

"We are not used to this position, are we? We are normally looking over our shoulders in March. It feels strange. It just shows what a fantastic season the lads have had.

"I've played in Europe before and it was great. We got all the way to the final. It was great, travelling to different countries and different opposition.

"It also it hampers your season sometimes if you look at the teams in there now. But personally I would like to play in it and hopefully the club would as well."

Clarke said: "I think it's going to be difficult to get West Brom into Europe this year.

"There is only fifth position that is guaranteed a Europa League spot and for us to get that, we would have to go past Arsenal and Everton.

"To finish above those teams is going to be very difficult. I don't think at this moment that European football is a realistic opportunity for us.

"What is realistic is we can get to 50 points. I want to get to 50 because that's what I said was possible and realistic at the start of the season."

Morrison feels a line has been drawn under the Peter Odemwingie saga which resulted in a series of Twitter rants against the club and failure to complete a move to QPR in January.

The initial negative response by supporters towards the Nigeria international on his return to Albion action seems to have dissipated.

Morrison said: "I think you've got to move on. I think the fans realise Peter is going to play for the team and be a key part of it.

"All Peter can do is keep his head down and keep playing and hopefully score some goals.

"Have things been okay in the dressing room? Yes. I think as players you get used to players moving on. If Peter is doing it on the pitch, we forget about it."