Steve Clarke geared up for his showdown with Paolo Di Canio by claiming he will not be found wanting for passion when Albion take on Sunderland tomorrow.
The Premier League’s bottom two clubs clash at The Hawthorns with both sides desperate for their first victory of the new Premier League season. And the calm and collected Clarke insists he will meet fire with fire when the explosive Di Canio comes to town looking to take his Black Cats side off the foot of the table and above the Baggies.
“All football managers and coaches are passionate but everybody shows it in a different way,” said Clarke.
“Obviously Paolo’s way is different to my way but that doesn’t mean I’m any less passionate about the game. I don’t really know him at all, to be honest. I must have played against him at some stage but I don’t know much about him.
“I look forward to meeting him, though, because he seems a bit of a character. He had a good grounding at Swindon. He went in there and learned the ropes, learned the job a little bit and then he got a fantastic opportunity to go to a good club like Sunderland.
“It will be interesting to see how they get on. I’ll tell you after the game what he’s like because I haven’t had the benefit of sharing a technical area with him.”
The Baggies have just two points from their opening four Premier League matches after losing their first two home games against Southampton and Swansea.
But a revamped Albion side, boosted by a glut of signings near the end of the transfer window, rescued their second away point of the season when Gareth McAuley headed their first league goal of the season 92 minutes into a 1-1 draw at Fulham.
Now Clarke knows they must add a victory to their record against a Mackems side with just a single point to their name.
“It would give everybody a big lift to get that first win,” said Clarke.
“When you’re four games into the season and you haven’t won a game you tend to get a little bit anxious and it’s my job to try to keep that anxiety away from the players.
“The players have to go out there and play with freedom and play as if they’re enjoying their football.
“If you don’t enjoy it then you don’t play to your maximum. Hopefully the win will come tomorrow.”
However, Clarke insisted he was not concerned the anxiety to land a first win of the season will create a tense atmosphere at The Hawthorns.
“I don’t think it will be a problem” he said.
“The fans here are good and they understand the team and the Premier League season.
“It’s a long season and there are a lot of points to be played for. It’s not the time to be getting too anxious but obviously the sooner the win comes, the better.”
Tomorrow’s game is followed for Albion by a Capital One Cup game against Arsenal, a Premier League trip to Manchester United and a second home game against the Gunners, this time in the league.
Clarke admitted the start to the season has left him frustrated, but insisted his players remain undaunted by the challenge that lies ahead
“I want to be further up the league and have more points and scoring more goals,” he said.
“ But I think we’re moving in the right direction.
“If people think we’re worried about playing Manchester United and Arsenal they’re wrong. They are games the players relish and look forward to.”