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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff
Dec 15, 2013

Clarke has 'deep regret' over sacking

Former West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke has released a statement expressing "deep regret" at his sacking on Saturday, saying he had "unfinished business" at the club.

A usually timid Steve Clarke gave his side a scathing half-time review against Villa
Clarke took West Brom to eighth last season.

• Evans: Clarke exit

The Baggies dismissed the Scot in the hours following their 1-0 defeat at Cardiff -- a fourth Premier League loss in succession, leaving them two points above the relegation zone. Roberto Di Matteo and Martin Jol are believed to be among the favourites to succeed him.

Clarke, who as a coach had worked with Jose Mourinho and Sir Bobby Robson, guided West Brom to eighth place in the league last season and said he felt proud of what he had achieved.

In his statement, released through the League Managers Association, he said: "I believe I have unfinished business at West Bromwich Albion Football Club, so it is with deep regret that I was relieved of my duties as head coach last night.

"I could not have been better prepared for my first job in management after over 14 years of coaching experience, learning from some of the great managers in the modern era.

"It was certainly a challenge to succeed Roy Hodgson after he guided the club to a 10th place finish in 2011-12 after only securing their Premier League status the year before.

"It goes without saying that I was extremely proud to have built on that achievement by securing the club's highest-ever finish in the Premier League and for over 30 years in the top flight by finishing eighth in 2012-13."

Clarke said he believed expectations for this season had become "perhaps unrealistically" higher as a result, adding: "But with it still being only our fourth consecutive season in the top flight, our primary objective had to be to establishing our status in the Premier League.

"I was, and remain convinced that we were well placed to achieve this aim."

He said it "has been an honour to manage this club, and I would like to thank the staff who have assisted me in every possible way as well as the fans, who have been tremendous throughout."

And he added: "Now I wish everyone connected with the club the very best for the future."

West Brom supporters’ club secretary Alan Cleverley said he was not convinced that either Jol, sacked as Fulham boss earlier this season, or ex-Baggies boss Di Matteo, would be the right man.

He told Press Association Sport: "If it's Jol, it is someone else's cast-off, while Di Matteo has done it before and wasn't a great success in the Premier League with us.

"I haven't seen a name yet where I think to myself: 'Yes, that would be fine.'

"Personally, I would have given him a little bit longer, but coming back from Cardiff on Saturday I would have said the coach was split about 50-50 on that.

"Some were for sacking him straight away. It really is a mixed one. I would have certainly seen it through to the end of the calendar year.

"It is not like we're adrift at the bottom, and the guy took us to eighth last year, which is overachieving."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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