Steve Clarke sacking: Head coach says he had ‘unfinished business’ at West Brom

Clarke was sacked by the club on Saturday evening

Steve Clarke last night bemoaned his sacking by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday evening, claiming he felt he could still be a success at the club.

“I believe I have unfinished business at West Bromwich Albion Football Club so it is with deep regret that I was relieved of my duties as head coach,” he said. “I could not have been better prepared for my first job in management after over 14 years coaching experience learning from some of the great managers in the modern era. It was certainly a challenge to succeed Roy Hodgson, having been appointed England manager.

Clarke also said that he was a victim of his own success having guided West Bromwich to an eighth-placed finish in last season’s Premier League.

“Going into this season expectations were high, perhaps unrealistically so, but with it still being only our fourth consecutive season in the top flight, our primary objective had to be establishing our status in the league. I was, and remain, convinced that we were well placed to achieve this aim.”

Clarke and his assistant Kevin Keen have both been placed on gardening leave after being informed of their departures after the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff – their fourth successive league loss. Roberto Di Matteo and Martin Jol are the early favourites to replace him, although Di Matteo is not in the club’s thoughts.

The chief executive of the League Managers Association, Richard Bevan, agreed that Clarke is the latest victim of “raised expectations”.

Bevan believes the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant can count himself unlucky to have lost his job, having guided West Bromwich to their highest league finish for more than 30 years last season.

“We are very sad for Steve, as he has only been given 18 months in his first managerial position during which he has achieved some real successes,” said Bevan. “Perhaps his dismissal is another example of a coach getting more out of his team than anyone expected and then, when results start to take a down-turn, the raised expectations count against him.”

Clarke becomes the fourth Premier League manager to leave his post this season after Paolo Di Canio, Ian Holloway and Jol. Yet while that trio were all at clubs mired in the bottom three, West Brom are 16th – two points clear of the relegation zone – and won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1978 earlier in the season.

Clarke’s decision to criticise chairman Jeremy Peace last month for failing to secure more of their transfer targets in the summer was not received well, with more than £12m spent on Stéphane Sessègnon and Victor Anichebe on the final day of the window. Yet the decision to relieve him of his duties still came as a shock, particularly given that there is no imminent successor lined up.

Di Matteo – who was sacked in 2011 having guided West Brom to promotion the previous season – is not on Peace and sporting and technical director Richard Garlick’s shortlist, with the former Chelsea manager also being paid £130,000 a week as part of his pay-off from Stamford Bridge. Jol, who spent two years at the club as a player in the 1980s, is available having left Fulham this month. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a candidate having guided Molde to the Norwegian cup this season.

The sack race: No Christmas cheer

Not since 2008 have four Premier League managers parted company with their clubs before Christmas when Alan Curbishley, Kevin Keegan, Juande Ramos, Paul Ince and Harry Redknapp all left their posts

2013-14 (up to 15 Dec)

Premier League: 4; Overall: 21

2012-13

Premier League: 2; Overall: 24

2011-12

Premier League: 1; Overall: 14

2010-11

Premier League: 3; Overall: 18

2009-10

Premier League: 2; Overall: 19

2008-09

PL exits: 5; Overall: 24

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam