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Five Aside

Results over entertainment for Clarke

Steve Clarke is aiming to entertain the Black Country public as well as providing them with a winning West Bromwich Albion side - but is under no illusions as to which is the higher priority.

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The 49-year-old - the latest in a long line of Scots making their mark on management in the Premier League - admits he was not too aware of the Baggies' decades-old tradition as crowd pleasers before his surprise summer arrival as head coach.

But he is committed to trying to live up to that aspect of the club's past, as long as the aim doesn't get in the way of achieving good results.

"It's no good playing fantastic football and getting beaten," he said before the Sunday clash at Newcastle.

"If we have to play ugly to win, we will. And we accept there will be periods in a game where you have to play ugly. Before I came here, I wouldn't have known about the club's style over the years. I know Tony Mowbray liked them to pass from the back, they were quite cavalier under Roberto di Matteo and different again under Roy (Hodgson)."

"But I came in without a template of how we would play. Every game is different. The basic principles are: Can we play good, attacking football? Can we entertain the public? Let's have them talking about this chance and that chance. But I have to separate the entertainment from getting good results. We know the fans will have gone home pig-sick last weekend, like we did, after we lost right at the end to Manchester City."

Clarke, a former Newcastle coach and briefly their caretaker manager, is hesitating over using the Magpies' midweek Europa League home win over Club Bruges as any pointer to this afternoon's events at St James' Park.

He expects Alan Pardew to ring the changes once more, as he himself may do if the likes of captain Chris Brunt (hamstring) and Billy Jones (knee) prove they are over injuries.

But he refuses to write off the chance that Albion's fine first two and a half months of the season might lead to a sustained pursuit of a top-six place.

"We have a good squad, although last week's result dilutes our start," he added. "I don't look at us as trying to emulate Newcastle. I just want us to do what we can for West Bromwich. If we are chasing European football.....fantastic! Everton have had a year in the Champions League and so have Tottenham. But we can't afford to look too far ahead."


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