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Feb 18, 2013

Clarke enjoying West Brom challenge

Steve Clarke believes West Bromwich Albion's winter of discontent has made him a better manager.

The Baggies head coach had to contend with a sharp downturn in results following the New Year, as well as the storms surrounding Peter Odemwingie and Goran Popov.

There was also a conflict between Jonas Olsson and Albion supporters during the home defeat against Tottenham 15 days ago - a matter that brought a third apology from a player to the Hawthorns masses in quick succession.

But, with a stunning 2-0 victory at his old club Liverpool freshest in his mind, Clarke insists he has come through the ordeal and is stronger than ever in preparation for the final three months of his first season in the hot seat.

"It has been a good experience," he said. "Different challenges always bring different solutions. While I didn't want this kind of publicity for the club, it has been a challenge for me. In the early part of the season, everything was going great for me. Recently, it has been a little bit more difficult and people can see if I can handle these challenges.

"I won't look back on it with any fond memories but if I learn something from it going ahead that makes me a better coach and helps me work better with the players, I'll try to take the positives from it."

Albion remain in the top half of the Premier League table after ending their eight-match run without a league or FA Cup victory by beating Liverpool.

They are at home to Sunderland on Saturday, with their first target - the accumulating of the 40 points they think they need to be sure of avoiding relegation - only a victory away.

"The most important thing for us is that we have to move on," Clarke said. "You can't stand still or keep looking back. I can't think of three apologies in a week at any other club I have been at. I don't think I could be prepared for the events that have happened here. But it's nice to see there have been apologies and everyone wants to move on."

Odemwingie was on the Albion bench at Anfield last season, where he scored the only goal of the game, but was not even named as a substitute this time.

And Clarke admits he is in the dark as to how the Nigeria international will be greeted when he does make his comeback following the Queens Park Rangers saga.

"All I can do is decide whether I think people can help us in certain games or not, and then I can select Peter to play," he said. "After that, it's hard for me to speculate on whether people will accept him or not."

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