Clarke defends Nicolas Anelka purchase
West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke has defended Nicolas Anelka, refusing to blame the French striker for the early-season problems at The Hawthorns.
Evans: Anelka's struggle
Some critics have singled out Anelka, 34, as one of the main reasons for Albion's struggle for goals so far, with questions raised over Clarke's decision to give him a Premier League swansong.
The striker has failed to score so far and created uncertainty with his recent threat to retire following the death of a close friend.
Albion's solitary goal in four games has come from defender Gareth McAuley, and Clarke has brought in strikers Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe in an attempt to solve the problem.
Both are in contention for the visit of Sunderland on Saturday, but Clarke is not ready to make Anelka the fall guy and believes all his players need to accept more responsibility.
"I think Nicolas’ form, by and large, has been good. He’s brought a different dimension to the team," he said.
"I think it is wrong that people single out Nicolas as the name. He’s part of a team that has struggled to create chances.
"It’s not just about Nicolas creating chances and scoring goals. It’s about everybody else chipping in.
"When the team defends well, I credit the whole team for everyone working hard to defend.
"And if you notice from the end of last season -- when we leaked a lot of goals -- this season we haven’t conceded very many.
"Although we’ve tightened up at the back, we need to find a little more creativity going forward.
"But that’s not only up to Nicolas Anelka. That’s for everyone in the team.
"Everybody has to step up to the mark and start to create more chances and start to score more goals.
"Nicolas is a star in the world of football -- he’s going to grab the headlines, but football is a team game.
"We’re delighted Nicolas is here and has raised the profile of the club, but it is everybody’s job to do well and create chances and score goals, not only Nicolas."