Clarke wants to spoil Ferguson party

West Brom boss Steve Clarke has urged his side to spoil Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement party against Manchester United on Sunday.

Steve Clarke

Albion have already achieved their best Barclays Premier League finish and are aiming to break the 50-point barrier and finish in the top eight.

However, after a superb first half of the season, their form dipped drastically over the winter period and has slumped again in recent weeks with three consecutive defeats culminating in a 4-0 loss to Norwich last weekend.

Clarke's men have the chance to end the season in style on Sunday by beating the champions in Ferguson's final match before retirement at the Hawthorns and the Scot is insistent they give a good showing.

"We're not there for a party on Sunday," warned Clarke, who will share a special bottle of red wine with his counterpart after the match.

"Our party will be with our supporters at the end of the game when the players get the chance to thank the fans and the fans get the chance to thank the players for the season.

"That's the only party we're interested in and we'll do what we can to finish on a high.

"We started the season on a high by beating Liverpool and we want to finish on a high against the champions.

"I'd be surprised if Sir Alex was just there to celebrate his last match as a manager. It's about competition and that's what he'll be there for."

Clarke admitted the heavy defeat by Norwich was hard to take and wants more from his men this weekend.

"I'm not hoping for a response, I know I will get one," he said.

"This is a group of players who know how to respond to adversity and know how to get results in the Premier League. That's why they are where they are in the table.

"Everybody is saying about the bad run we're on but you have to have a sense of perspective about what we're doing at this club, and that is achieving year-on-year improvement.

"It reflects well on everyone. The club has a plan and we know how to work. We're trying to build slowly. It's no secret about how we do it, we're not a club to go round throwing lots of money about. We have to be clever and careful how we build the squad and that's how we have to do it again this summer.

"The job next year is to ensure that that improvement continues.

"With a club of our size there will be a dip at some point. The big thing is that our dip came after we had secured our objective of being safe. We haven't been involved in that scrap all season. There needs to be a reality check because this group of players has been really good."

Clarke, whose side currently sit eighth with 48 points, added: "We've been stuck a bit, chasing that target of 50 points. I think for us the season started to peter out when we realised the top six and Europa League were beyond our grasp and the squad was stretched a bit much for us.

"But we can still finish in the top eight and break 50 points so it will still be a good season for us.

"It's been a few weeks since our last win. Too many weeks. But we don't set out to lose games, we want to win."

 



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