West Brom manager Steve Clarke bears no grudge, despite revealing he was sacked by Liverpool

 

West Brom manager Steve Clarke squares off with Liverpool's Brendan
Rodgers tomorrow insisting he bears no grudge towards his friend's new
club despite being sacked by them this summer.

Clarke has revealed he was fired from the coaching staff at Anfield rather than leaving of his own accord following Kenny Dalglish's dismissal after a poor season.

The Scot said Rodgers had urged him to stay on when he was first in the running to succeed Dalglish. But Rodgers then dropped out of contention and despite the Northern Irishman eventually getting the job after all, Clarke claims he was sacked by the club.

But Clarke feels no bitterness after securing his first full managerial role at the Hawthorns by replacing England boss Roy Hodgson.

"I've got no grievance whatsoever with Liverpool Football Club," he said. "I had a fantastic time there and obviously after Saturday I'll wish them well for the season.

"It's a big game for me because it's my first in charge of West Bromwich Albion. It wouldn't matter who the opposition is, it would still be just as big a game."

Former Chelsea assistant Clarke - who worked closely with Rodgers when the latter was cutting his teeth with the Blues' youth and reserve teams - explained: "I had a chat with Brendan after Kenny had left Liverpool.

"I was still there at first - I didn't go at the same time as Kenny contrary to a lot of press opinion. I spoke to Brendan, he said he was one of the candidates.

"At the time he told me 'don't walk away, don't do anything silly because maybe we can work together'.

"From there Brendan pulled out of the race, then he came back in - whatever happened, he got the job. I wish him good luck and we are still good friends. We speak a lot but not too much before this match.

"I actually got sacked by Liverpool. After they took Brendan in they must have decided to rejig the whole staff. That is part and parcel of football."

Clarke also believes he and Dalglish - under whom he was assistant manager at Anfield - left the Reds in decent shape: "Kenny and I were pretty sure with the group of players we had, Liverpool would be in the top four this season."

Asked whether Rodgers will be expected to make that top-four target, Clarke said: "Not if you read what the owners are saying there. They said that top four is not imperative for the current season but I don't believe that.

"A club like Liverpool have to be there challenging for the top four. I don't think they can accept anything less."

Clarke this week experienced his first sour taste of the age-old club v country dispute and is annoyed with what he sees as unnecessary stress put on his players.

"Jonas Olsson played 90 for Sweden and Gareth McAuley played 90 (for Northern Ireland)," he said.

"It has upset me a little bit, yes. Two experienced central defenders didn't need 90 minutes of football after travelling to play for their countries before the opening of the Premier League. I don't understand it.

"It's placed in a ridiculous place in the calendar, it's been addressed and it will be taken out of the fixture list and the quicker that happens the better."

Olsson and Scotland's James Morrison are injury doubts while Markus Rosenberg and Graham Dorrans are unavailable.

PA

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