Steve Clarke put it best on West Brom's season

It might have sounded a touch contrived, but boss Steve Clarke summed up West Brom's achievements perfectly in the wake of their thrilling season finale.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United - Hawthorns

“For us to finish in the top eight is almost like being first in the ‘second league’ and it’s a great achievement.”

That was Clarke said as he caught his breath after the 5-5 home draw with Manchester United. And the Baggies boss was spot on. Many statistics stand out from a memorable season at the Hawthorns.

A return of 49 points was their best ever in the Premier League, while an eighth-place finish was their highest in the top flight since 1981.

Yet the tag which sounds least impressive is perhaps the one that should please Albion fans most – their side ended Clarke’s first campaign in charge as the ‘best of the rest’ in the Premier League.

The big-spending Manchester duo and the trio of London heavyweights were always likely to have the top five places ring-fenced.

Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton also had the spending power and pedigree for their supporters to demand high-placed finishes.

Despite a difficult second half of the campaign that caused some justifiable alarm among fans, the Baggies still broke new ground in the Premier League age.

Their fans have not had it this good for a generation.

Player of the Season: Gareth McAuley

Many players impressed during West Bromn’s record-breaking campaign, but one man stood out.

When Gareth McAuley received his big break in the Premier League at the age of 31, fans were surprised, and when he failed to make an early impression they were concerned.

But the Northern Ireland international ended the 2011-12 term in strong form and carried it into the campaign, just ended, during which he was Clarke’s defensive rock.

Goal of the Season: Zoltan Gera v Liverpool

Few players have been as popular with West Brom fans in the Premier League era as Zoltan Gera.

So, in a season when his contribution was once again limited by injury, it is fitting he should have left fans with a couple of enduring memories.

First came the left-footed screamer in the 4-2 win at Sunderland, then his even-more-special  thunderbolt in the 3-0 opening-day win against Liverpool.

High of the Season: Beating Chelsea

So many days stood out for Baggies fans, but 17 November 2012 was probably the occasion that provided the biggest high.

That was the day that the champions of Europe arrived at the Hawthorns, managed by a former West Brom boss, and left with a 2-1 defeat – their second loss in as many seasons on Hawthorns turf.

Goals from Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie gave West Bromn their third victory in a sequence of four wins.

That gave Clarke a memorable triumph over his former employers and hastened Roberto Di Matteo’s controversial departure from Stamford Bridge.

Low of the Season: Odemwingie row

A depressing January weekend off the field was the lowest point for Baggies fans, as one-time hero Odemwingie took to Twitter in a row with the club and supporters in the wake of his transfer request.

Odemwingie had been heading for legendary status after two successful goalscoring seasons and a hat-trick at Wolves.

But his attempts to leave and his online rants soured his relationship with the fan-base irreparably.

Defining Moment of the Season: Opening day joy

Rarely can the opening day be seen to have defined a club’s season but, in Clarke’s case, the 3-0 success against Liverpool back in August set the tone for much of what was to follow.

A comprehensive victory over one of the Premier League’s most illustrious names eased any pressure on the Scot, as he took over head coach duty from Roy Hodgson.

Comments for: "Steve Clarke put it best on West Brom's season"

astleistheking

I remember just looking at the bloke sitting next to me at the Liverpool game. We were both lost for words at how West Brom out passed, tackled, scored Liverpool with total ease. That really was a great surpise for me. As you said the Chelsea game really was the icing on the cake as the atmosphere was electric. Even the Chelsea fans admired what we did to them that day, as I travelled back to London with many of them.

I still can't believe Gera's goal against Liverpool never got in the top 10.

amsterdam baggie

why can,t you beleive zoltans goal did,nt get in the top ten on match of the day it didn,t even get goal of the weekend due to -wa- who i can,t remember gave it too someone else,who i still can,t remember,but we are albion and should by now used to being ignored,i.e all the praise we got after sunday,zilch,uk em we are albion and know what we have acheived

AndyH

Evening mate,

ahh Liverpool....great game - in the sunshine and what a performance. And as for Gera's goal....it set up what was a really good - if not great - season overall for us....best in a generation.....got to smile really

regards

AndyH

amsterdam baggie

p ost script to my last post,i went from london with a good scouse mate of mine to l.f.c against st. etienne,they won and went on to win the european cup,and albion hammered ipswich that evening to spoil there title hopes,great memories on the late train out of lime str.and scousers singing albions praises,we got euston at 6am picked up the papers and it was all about q.p.r. who had done something that same evening can,t remember what,but it shows you its all london that takes the headlines,unless you do something special

AMS

From that Liverpool game onwards we never looked like struggling. We have been able to enjoy the season without ever having to look over our shoulders like Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland have had to do. This has been a great season and now the dust has settled we can rightly be proud of the club.

The summer should see the end of the Odemwingie saga and the challenge to Steve Clarke and Richard Garlick to build on the steady progress of the last few seasons. I think there may be a need to raise our own bar regarding salaries and transfer fees in proportion to the additional money coming in; just to ensure we are able to maintain this level. But in JP and RG we have shrewd operators and an operating model that has been seen to be effective.

For now just looking forward to our fourth season in a row and a nice break for the summer - such as it is - more like February as I type this.

Kappa_Albion

How can you say we out passed Liverpool?

CantelloRocket 78

Kappa-

like this, '' we.....out......passed.......Liverpool........'' -

quite easy, really........

Division 4 here we come again

You had to be there

Kappa_Albion

I was there.

Kappa_Albion

I think you should go back and look at the stats for that Liverpool game. 43% possession is not outpassing a team. Don't let the fact we won 3-0 blur your vision.

AndyH

Afternoon,

but we did win ......so is shall......

regards

AndyH

The Real Bully Hoo.

Stats can give a guide but rarely tell the whole story. It's fairly easy to retain possession in your own half because the other team will often let you.

I've been watching the Albion for 52 seasons and believe me there have been times when blurred vision would have been a Godsend. Perhaps your memory has dulled a little but early season our crisp one touch passing was a joy to watch and left more than a few teams chasing shadows.

Unfortunately We've been unable to reproduce it later in the season and it's hard to put your finger on the reason. I think Lukaku may be a big part of it. Because of his style he needs an early ball hit long whereas when Long was playing as lone striker he could just as easily be fed in late.

Anybody agree?

DwarfzappA

The Real Bully Hoo.

I would not question you, but i have my own (talk about ruffling some feathers) theory.

First of all the Baggies played some good stuff early (13) season, and we were on the front foot, pushing other teams.

But no one on here reflects on how the opposition were performing, three or four of the teams we played were completely out of character. It was a pleasure to witness wins over Liverpool and Chelsea, but 'Happy' reminds us in a couple of his recent posts, that a season is spread over 38 games.

Someone on here recently pointed out that SC next season inherits SC's team, i say this because some posties believe Hodgsons values were still visable at the start of the season.

can you see this ?

CantelloRocket 78

Dwarf-

if you're a genuine Baggies fan, is there any reason why you keep changing your name, all the way back to that class of '68?

It's an ' offal ' lot of effort, don't ya think.......?

The Real Bully Hoo.

DZ.

Early season it may have been in some part RH's team but if you remember the season before there were many on here attacking Roy for being too negative and lacking imagination. It was very much SC's doing that we became more adventurous and attractive to watch.

It was why we beat Liverpool 3-0 and Everton 2-0 instead of 1-0 wins and I fully give Roy the credit for the nil on both occasions. Having said that, some of the goals against have been down to our more cavalier attacking style this season and SC may well be thinking about that.

If as you point out that Chelsea and Liverpool were underperforming early season you must surely also take into account that clubs like Wigan and Norwich were overperforming as they fought for their lives at the end when we were safe.

One last thing. I entirely enjoy arguing a point with you, this is a debating site and we have attacked each other's POV's without it getting personal or nasty.

I've noticed that you and another regular poster are constantly at each other's throats. You are both genuine dyed in the wool Baggies and you are both intelligent and worthy posters. I'm not asking you to be best mates but how about a truce. If me and Max can enjoy a love-in after all we've been through I'm sure you two can manage at least a polite hand shake as you both add greatly to the quality on here.

PS.

Max if you're reading. Sorry I've gone back into boring wind-bag mode.

CantelloRocket 78

AITK,

funnily enough, the first game I can remember going to as a young lad was near the end of 1964, when Albion beat Liverpool 3-0 at The Hawthorns, one of the goalscorers that day was a new guy we'd signed about 3 weeks earlier, named Jeff Astle.

But even in the late '60s we had our share of 'hard on the eyes' performances, I recall us being awful at home to a struggling Notts. Forest and losing 2-5, also a mid-week game against Blackburn, dark and wet, with a 0-0 scoreline and the belief that if they were still playing that game until today, no one would've found the net.

So it wasn't always 'glorious', but when you can look back on memorable games - like winning the F.A. Cup in '68, but also thrashing the European Champions that year - Manchester United - by 6-3 in the league, then you wouldn't change it for the world.

The defeats can still be recalled years later, but the victories stand out much more strongly, so poor results near the end of last season will mean very little in the future, but those games against Liverpool and Chelsea will be with you forever as fantastic memories-

absorb and savour it mate, it dow 'alf mek ya feel gud...........;-)

SteveG

That 3-0 against Liverpool was my first game as well. I thought it was Autumn '63 though? I think Liverpool had just been promoted under Shankly, and were not the force they later became. I loved it, 8 years old at the time. Remember walking from the ground and seeing a coach full of very sad looking people decked in red and white. That day is imprinted on my mind. I thought it was always going to be like that.

Offal

This article makes for good reading and rightly so.

But for me it smells of self appraisal, this practice was introduced to my industry in the late 80's and there is no question, overall standards did drop. I can only read so many times how good we were.

I want SC to tell me he will bring a stability and a consistency that 'no living' Baggie supporter as never seen the like of.

If he can deliver this i will believe in him, if he can not, we will remain a 'nearly' club. I have witnessed our highs and lows of the past many decades, is SC the man who will eliminate our 'nearly' tag.

?????????

The Real Bully Hoo.

If you're talking about the league then being more than nearly men means what exactly?

Should we be pushing into the top seven or the top four?

Clubs like Everton and Villa have a twenty years lead in the Premier League and all the money and consolidation that brings with it over us.

Tottenham have that as well as being in London which attracts players.

Man Ure, Liverpool and Arsenal have both those advantages as well as being regarded as glamour clubs.

Chelsea and Man City have all of that plus a multi billonaire owner.

So I repeat my original question. Just which clubs should we be elbowing past and exactly how do you propose doing it?

Please reply as I'm sure Steve Clarke will be interested.

Offal

TRBH

You are my age, you remember the Hagan and Ashman team's plus the Giles and Atkinson teams.

The B'ham Mail and the Daily Mail (Jeff Farmer) labeled us the nearly men. Nothing offensive, but it bares some thinking about. What you say is correct, i am interested to know whether (any manager or coach) can deliver more than those previous managers, simple really.

Or are we happy going along the same path ?

just simple constructive debate, pointless coming on here if we all agree with one another.

I remember it well

The Real Bully Hoo.

Offal.

I remember that quote well but they were very different times to the ones we find ourselves in now. I put in another post about Northampton going from the fourth to first division and back in almost consecutive seasons. I think Gillingham have just won div 2 could you see them winning another two consecutive promotions?

The way things stand, 'nearly men' is the best we can hope for. It will take 20 years in present conditions or some massive upheaval in the way things are run. That won't happen because money is the God of football and nothing will be allowed to get in the way of that. Especially something as trivial and unimportant as sport.

CantelloRocket 78

Bully,

exactly what I was thinking.

I guess you could say the likes of Chelsea and Man.City were often 'nearly men', because City were usually in the shadow of United, and Chelsea bettered by one or two other London clubs, but now they both have billionaires lifting them to great heights, both can start each season with a realistic chance of lifting both premiership and Champion's League titles.

How can the Baggies compete on a level footing when other clubs can 'cherry pick' many world class players from across the globe?

Modern day football is a very different animal to those long gone days.

Mboy

We played Chelsea at home at a good time - just before their important Champions League game against Juventus. They left their best player (Mata) on the bench and others were "rested" as well. However, it was still a good win as their side still cost more than ours.

Kev in Mallorca

That was like pulling teeth wor it? Talk about begrudging praise!!

Yo remind me of the "Competitive Dad" character from The Fast Show.

The Real Bully Hoo.

Good of you to admit that Mboy. They actually had individual players that cost more than our squad.