Clarke wants West Brom to emulate Swansea

Steve Clarke has challenged West Brom to ensure the season does not fizzle out and also to strive to emulate the success of opponents Swansea during the 2013-2014 campaign.

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The Baggies and the Swans have both occupied a spot in the top half of the Barclays Premier League for most of the campaign and are currently only separated by goal difference.

But Michael Laudrup's side have earned most of the plaudits for their cup triumph and Clarke feels it is a realistic goal for Albion to try to achieve next season.

He said: "We've been neck and neck all season with Swansea in the league. They also managed to put together a cup run. We had hoped we would do so this year, but didn't manage to do it.

"Hopefully that will give us a target for next year because you have seen the sort of accolades Swansea have received.

"They get all the headlines and deservedly so, because they have managed to win one of the few domestic trophies around - and that's what we have to aim for here at Albion."

Clarke wants his team to push on during the remaining 10 league games on finally reaching the 40 point mark after a run of five defeats in six games had slowed their progress.

He is aware how the expectation levels of supporters were raised during the first half of the season and wants to end with a flourish, but believes Europe may just be beyond West Brom.

Clarke said: "Supporters have to dream. That's part of being a supporter. We were up there. I've said myself I'm disappointed it's taken so long for us to get to 40 points.

"I was hoping we could have reached it earlier and we would have a chance to get an even higher points total.

"Now you look, with 10 games to go, that we could still break the 50 point barrier with a reasonable run of results.

"Hopefully we can break it by more than one or two points and get towards the mid 50s or top end of the 50s and make it a really good season.

"But I think it is now too far away to hope we can get into the European positions."

Clarke is also cautioning against Albion being caught by the pack of teams just below them in mid-table.

He said: "We are not at the top of the table. We are just in the top half. It's not as if we are miles away from the pack that are chasing us.

"They are within catching distance so we have been mindful that if we don't keep picking up points, ourselves - and Swansea - can be caught by teams below us.

"We have to just focus on the job in hand. Swansea have won a domestic trophy which makes it for them a fantastic season.

"If it ended tomorrow [Saturday] for Swansea, they could say it has been a fantastic season.

"If it ended for us and we finished on 40 points, I think it would be disappointing for us."

Albion were beaten 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium after a run of four successive wins and have lost all three Premier League meetings with the Welsh club.

He said: "We went down there this season, on the back of four wins, and for 30 minutes, it's the best any team has played against us.

"It is probably one of the best 30 minutes I've seen from a team in the Premier League for a number of years.

"I thought they were outstanding that night and we got a bit of a tonking. We look forward to the chance to try and put a few things right on Saturday.

"We will be looking at different things and ideas and hope we can find a way that is a bit different to how we've played against them before, will cause them a few problems and get a better result.

"But I don't think three defeats is enough to classify anyone as a bogey team. If it becomes seven, eight, nine defeats you can call it a bogey team."

West Brom will welcome back a trio of players in skipper Chris Brunt, on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku and left-back Goran Popov against Swansea.

Midfielder Brunt has recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea last weekend while Lukaku was ineligible to play against his parent club.

Popov has served a three-game ban for his red card after spitting at Tottenham defender Kyle Walker.

Striker Shane Long is the Baggies main injury worry with a recurrence of an ankle problem.



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