Clarke looks to push on

  • Last Updated: December 24 2012, 7:53 GMT

West Brom manager Steve Clarke has challenged his players to set even higher standards during the second half of the campaign.

Steve Clarke: 'Great platform to build on'
Steve Clarke: 'Great platform to build on'

The Baggies head into the festive period on 30 points after Clarke's first half-season in charge at the Hawthorns.

A 2-1 home win over Norwich ended a four-game sequence without a win and Clarke believes Albion have "a great platform" to build on in 2013.

The former Chelsea number two said: "I said to the players after the game that they can be really pleased with their efforts.

"To be sitting on 30 points before the halfway stage is a good achievement for them. We can use that as a springboard and an inspiration to do even better during the second half of the season.

"It has given us a great platform to build on for 2013 and we will give everything in the remaining games to complete the job we have started."

Clarke added: "Although our recent performances have lacked the spark of games earlier in the season, there is still a lot to be pleased with.

"We have managed to set very high standards as a group right from day one and have only very rarely and briefly dropped away from them.

"What has been achieved represents a good return for nearly six months of hard work put in by the players since returning for pre-season."

Albion's match-winner against the Canaries was Romelu Lukaku, with the on-loan Chelsea striker's sixth goal of the season arriving eight minutes from time.

The Belgian has hailed the impact of Clarke on improving his game to ensure he is good enough to play for Chelsea when he returns to Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku said: "I've a manager here who is really at me all the time and wants me to improve. West Brom at this time is the perfect environment for me to play and improve to help me to be ready to play for when I go back to Chelsea.

"I don't want to be on the bench. I want to start there but I'm 19 and need to play as much as I can now."

Albion will also be able to call on the services of striker Peter Odemwingie during January after he was not selected for Nigeria's African Nations Cup squad.

Norwich took the lead through Robert Snodgrass but suffered their first defeat in 11 league games after Zoltan Gera levelled and Lukaku struck late.

Snodgrass has now challenged the Canaries to bounce back during festive home games against Chelsea and Manchester City.

The former Leeds player said: "Defeat is very hard to take. It just shows you how well we are doing that we are gutted to lose.

"I think we did well in spells but I think we gifted them two easy goals when we usually defend really well.

"It wasn't to be be but we have got two games coming up and hopefully we can put things right.

"Sometimes you take these games as a bonus (Chelsea and Manchester City) but, when you have beaten Manchester United and Arsenal, and have a 10-game unbeaten run, there is that belief.

"It is how much they want it as a team. Do they want to be up there fighting in the top half of the table?

"We have got great players here and a great management team, so it bodes well for us to keep climbing."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week