Full interview with Steve Clarke on Peter Odemwingie

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke has spoken to the media for the first time since striker Peter Odemwingie’s bizarre transfer deadline-day antics.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion - Loftus Road

The Baggies boss spent 20 minutes fielding questions about Odemwingie’s unauthorised trip to QPR in the hope of finalising a transfer. Here is a full transcript of the exchanges.

 Question: Tell us in your mind what happened. What did you think of it being played out on camera with Peter going to QPR, giving an interview and saying ‘we’ when he referred to QPR?

Clarke: “It was very disappointing, obviously, as head coach of the club. There was never a situation where Peter wasn’t our player.

“We were as surprised as anybody when he turned up at Loftus Road because he didn't have permission to be there.

“And I think QPR made that quite clear as well when they turned him away.”

 

Was it a case of getting the lawyers in and finding out where you stand?

“It’s not about getting lawyers in, it’s about analysing the situation as a club.

“We have had a number of meetings already and Peter has been in.

“We've had meeting with myself, Peter, Dan (Ashworth, outgoing sporting director) and a Richard (Garlick, new sporting director), and that's really the start of the next part of the process.

 

Peter has intimated Dan was apologetic and that he had been mislead?

“I think it's obvious that there must have been some form of misunderstanding on the part of Peter and his agents, otherwise why would they turn up at Loftus Road without permission to be there?

“But there is no misunderstanding on the part of the clubs. West Bromwich Albion never gave permission for Peter and his agents to speak to QPR, and QPR know that and that's why they dealt with the situation like they did.

“At boardroom level there is absolute clarity.”

 

So he left Albion clear that he wasn’t joining QPR and was a West Brom player?

“Yes. He had no permission at that time to go. But there must have been, at some stage, a misunderstanding.”

 

Pardon the pun but was he winging it? Why did he go down there?

“I have no idea. That’s not a question for me. It’s a question for Peter and his advisors.”

 

So do you just think he wanted the move so he just drove down there hoping it would come off?

“Listen, at some stage the deal was close to happening. I think that’s obvious. But like a number of transfers on deadline day, it fell through.

“That is normal. I’m sure there are a lot of clubs that tried to do deals.

“We tried to do deals to bring players in and it didn’t happen.”

 

What about the club, Harry Redknapp and QPR? Were they exemplary? Did they have a part to play in all this?

“At boardroom level there is absolute clarity in the whole situation.”

 

Excuse me for saying, but you look tired and weary.

“We had a game on Wednesday night, a tough game at Goodison Park, and I didn’t get much sleep after that.

“And I was in all day on Thursday and didn’t leave until 11.30pm.

“It’s part of the education process.”

 

We’ve heard Peter has been sent home. Is that right?

“With the week that has developed before, Peter is not in the right frame of mind to be involved in the squad this weekend.

“It's in the best interests of Peter, myself as head coach and the rest of my players, that we have time to focus on the game against Tottenham.

“So Peter has got permission to be at home and he'll come back to train when we decide its right.”

 

Can he come back from this? From what we’re hearing he has annoyed his team-mates as well.

“I am sure he has.”

 

And come he come back with the fans? Will they accept him back?

“There always has to be a way back. I think there have been a number of high-profile cases where there is a way back. It's not going to happen overnight, it's going to happen over a period of time.

“Peter is still one of my players, he is still part of my squad, we don't carry a big squad of players here.

“I have to work with the club, with Peter, with the rest of my players and I have to get to a situation where hopefully there can be some kind of resolution where Peter can still help West Bromwich Albion Football Club because that's what it's all about.

 

Has he been a bit of an idiot?

“Listen, you have to use your own words. I’m disappointed with the way the whole episode has turned out. It’s disappointing for me.

“But to try to put words into my mouth is wrong. You shouldn’t have used that word.”

 

Well, what do you think he is?

“As I said before the Everton game I think he’s been very, very badly advised and I think if I was Peter I’d be looking for new agents.”

 

Have you ever known anything like this before, in your managerial career or as a player?

“I’ve never seen a situation like this. I’ve seen situations where players have tried to engineer a move out of a club, of course.

“It happens. Everybody knows it happens. But never to the extent of the media coverage this whole episode has attracted.”

 

Albion fans are telling us they feel very hurt. Can they forgive or forget what Peter has said?

“That’s something we have to work at over the coming weeks and hopefully there is a way back.

“It’s always disappointing if there’s no way back from mistakes. Everybody who is anybody has made mistakes in life. You have to try to recover from those mistakes as best you can.”

 

What will Peter have to do to convince them he has been misguided and he does still want to play for the club?

“I’m sure over the coming days and weeks Peter can do many things.

“Maybe he has to apologise. Maybe he has to get picked first, and before he gets picked he has to get back into the squad.

“He has to show his teammates he is willing to help them.

“And then, if he is selected for matches, he has to do well in the games.”

 

So he hasn’t played his last game for the club?

“I don’t think. As I sit here now, I can’t say for sure that he hasn’t played his last game for the club. But I don’t think he’s played his last game for the club.

“As I stated before, I don’t run with a big squad, I don’t have a big squad of players.

“And hopefully we can get to a situation sometime in the future where if I need to use Peter then I can.

“I have to think like that. My job is to get results on the pitch and to do that I need players.”

 

Did you sense any remorse when you spoke to him?

“Yes, absolutely.”

 

Did he apologise to you personally?

“Let’s get this clear. Peter and I have always had a really good relationship. And, though this will test the relationship a little bit, hopefully going forward we will still have that good personal relationship.

“And at the moment the professional relationship is fine.”

 

He claimed he said his goodbyes at the training ground. If that was the case, why didn’t you tell him not to go?

“He left here without permission to speak to QPR. That’s clear.

“But he must have felt that at some stage during the day the deal would happen.

“The deal didn’t happen. For various reasons the deal didn’t go through. That happens in the transfer window.”

 

Was there a general feeling, when he left with his bags, that you’d seen the last of Peter?

“I’m pretty sure some people maybe thought they’d seen the last of him.

“He thought at some stage during the day that a deal would be agreed.”

 

Did you think that?

“There was a moment when I thought there would be a deal, yes.”

 

So it’s not total lunacy that he should turn up at QPR?

“It was total lunacy because he didn’t have permission to be at QPR. That’s why QPR turned him away.”

 

Would players in that situation not normally get themselves somewhere near where they need to be, to be in the right place should a deal be agreed?

“I don’t know. The only example I’ve got that’s similar is when Newcastle flew Andy Carroll down from Newcastle.

“But they didn’t fly him down in a helicopter until they had permission to do it.

“That was the transfer deadline when Fernando went to Chelsea and Andy Carroll went to Liverpool.

“I was sitting in with Kenny Dalglish on that one for a bit of experience and I know, once the clubs had agreed and permission was granted, Andy Carroll flew in a helicopter to get there.”

 

So he’s only really guilty of jumping the gun?

“I think he did jump the gun. You have to wait until you get permission from your club before you go to speak to another club. That’s clear.”

 

When do you envisage him coming back to training, because the longer you leave it the more match fitness he will lose?

“When we decide that the time is right for Peter to come back to training, we will address that situation and he will be back in.”

 

Does he want to play for West Brom?

“He wants to play football.”

 

But does he want to play for West Brom?

“He’s a professional footballer.

“Does he want to play for West Brom?...”

 

He’s already said ‘I want to leave, I will leave?’

“Given the discussion I had with him, I think he still has a part to play for West Bromwich Albion and I think he understands that.

“He’s under contract for the next 18 months.

“And if he’s under contract for the next 18 months and wants to play football, at this moment in time his best chance of playing football is with West Bromwich Albion.”

 

His quotes seemed to intimate he still wants to go. Is there a chance he could join clubs across Europe where their transfer windows are different?

“We spoke about that and he told me that’s not what he wants to do.”

 

He said the club know he reasons for wanting to go. Has he made them clear to you? Are they footballing or personal reasons?

“They’re not footballing reasons – not from my time at the club.

“I know what the reasons are but they’re not from my time, they’re from before my time.

“It’s difficult for me to comment on something that happened before I came here.”

 

People will think it’s purely financial. Is that to do Peter a disservice?

“I think it is. I think there was some financial element to it, as there is in every deal.

“That’s always the case. From a footballing point of view he felt he had the chance to go somewhere else and maybe get a longer contract.

“Whether it’s financial and whether the contract is worth more money, I really couldn’t comment.

“I wouldn’t know.”

 

We are led to believe Junior Hoilett was part of the deal at some point. Was QPR’s refusal to let him go the thing that eventually brought the deal down?

“There was a possibility. We spoke about the possibility of doing a player-plus-cash deal. I won’t speak about the player.

“You named a player but I won’t speak about players from other clubs.

“But it didn’t happen. There was no way Peter could go out of the building without us having a replacement for him.”

 

So was that the crucial point?

“I think it’s fair to say the time we realised we couldn’t get a replacement for Peter there was no point in letting him go out of the building.”

 

You said you won’t name someone else’s player. How much responsibility have QPR and Harry Redknapp got in this whole scenario?

“I don’t discuss other clubs’ business. My job is to work for West Bromwich Albion.

“Other managers have their way of working, I have my way of working.”

 

But what do you think of the way it’s been done elsewhere, down in West London?

“I know that I wouldn’t work that way. I know that I would conduct myself differently. That’s all I can say.”

 

You clearly didn’t know he’d gone down to London, because somebody surely would have called him back when they knew the deal had broken down?

“The first I knew of it is when he appeared on television.”

 

What do you say to fans who are disappointed that, for personal reasons, he couldn’t travel to Everton but 24 hours later he could travel to London to broker a deal for himself?

“The fans are entitled to be disappointed.

“It is their football club and that is bigger than any one person.

“Football clubs belong to the supporters and they’re entitled to be disappointed.

“Bear in mind that before the Everton game his young son, who had just been born, had been hospitalised and he was given permission to make sure his son and wife were OK.

“You have to feel some sympathy for Peter on that front as well.”

 

You have given him advice on how to rehabilitate himself with the club. How does he do that with the fans? Did you give him that advice?

“The conversation wasn't long enough for that. It was quite a short conversation and to the point, as it had to be.”

 

You said it was clear at boardroom level. Does that mean lower levels at QPR there was confusion?

“I don't know how QPR conduct their business. I know my technical directors and chairman kept me fully informed of the process all the way through.”

 

So is there a chance that some of the confusion in Peter’s mind could have stemmed from QPR?

“If you say that it's possible. It certainly didn't come from this end.”

 

He was already facing disciplinary sanctions after what went on Twitter last weekend, given what’s happened this week is there a prospect of further sanctions on top of that?

“There will be a disciplinary process over a number of things have happened this week.

“As always as a club it will be done privately and internally but it will be dealt with.”

 

Have you had assurances from him that there’s no chance of this situation escalating into a Tevez-style strike?

“The conversation was quite brief but my relationship with Peter is good and he didn't give me any indication the situation would escalate any further than it already has.

“To be honest, it has escalated far too far already.”

 

What length of time do you think you will need to give it before you can think about bringing him back into the team?

“I’m not going to put a timeframe on it. From now until after the Tottenham game my only thoughts are on the players that are available and the game itself because we need to get a positive result for our supporters and the club.

“After that I’ll give it some more thought and then we’ll decide from there. If I put a timescale on it and that doesn’t happen, there will just be more questions.”

 

The international break gives you some time?

“Some players will go away with their countries next week and some will still be here, but I’ll have some time to clear my head and focus on trying to find a way forward for everybody.

“That’s my job.

“I don’t run with a big squad and I have to get the best out of all the players that are available to me.”