Clarke's First Season
This story begins on the 29th of June 2013. Clarke's first season has come and gone, but how exactly did the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant manager do in his first season at the Hawthorns?
Steve Clarke, a former football player who played for St. Mirren and Chelsea, making 550 appearances for both clubs in total, also enjoyed a career as an assistant manager to West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool. Just 2 days after being sacked by Liverpool, Clarke was announced as manager of West Bromwich Albion on 8 June 2012, replacing Roy Hodgson.
His first matches in charge of the club, the pre-season friendlies, were a huge success, with the Baggies not scoring less than 3 goals to win in every game. Clean sheets were also easily kept.
Clarke's first months in charge of West Bromwich proved satisfying. The Scot introduced a highly defensive mentality, and this helped to secure wins against clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Despite it backfiring sometimes, this strategy and mentality often brought wins. In his first 22 games in charge, Clarke had masterminded 13 wins and 2 draws.
West Bromwich were also very active in the transfer window, with Clarke spending 23 million and selling a total of 20 million worth of players away to reshape the team. Every single new arrival shone, especially goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who took away the first-team spot of Ben Foster in mid-season and keeping 8 clean sheets, 2 more than Foster. Paulo Ferreira was also another surprisingly brilliant transfer, originally brought in as support at right-back, but the Portuguese veteran has established himself as first-choice at left-back with his superb performances after joining from Chelsea.
The Baggies' first half of the season was undeniably better than the second, but nevertheless, Albion fans will look back to this as one of their better seasons. Despite going out early in the Third Round of the FA Cup, Clarke took West Bromwich to the Semi-Finals of the League Cup, losing to Liverpool over 2 legs. The Reds eventually went on to win the League Cup for the second consecutive season, beating Chelsea in the Final.
It was an 8th place finish for West Bromwich Albion. Manchester City retained their league title and both Arsenal & Tottenham surprisingly finished above Manchester United. Newcastle finished at 5th place like they did in the previous season, and Stoke City finished 6th, winning Tony Pulis a runner-up spot in Manager of the Year. On the other side of the table, Swansea, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan were relegated, with Wigan finishing rock bottom with 24 points.
All in all, it was a good season for the Baggies, but Clarke will be looking to improve on them in his second season.
2012 European Roll of Honour
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
World Player of the Year
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
World Team of the Year
Valdes; Ramos, Pique, Vidic, Evra; Sneijder, Xavi; Messi, Aguero, Bale, Villa
2012/13 Premier League Awards
David de Gea (Manchester United)
Footballer of the Year
Peter Crouch (Stoke City)
Goal of the Season
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Manager of the Year
Roberto Mancini (Manchester City)
Players' Player of the Year
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Players' Team of the Year
De Gea; Sagna, Kompany, Vidic, Evra; Cazorla, Mata, Rooney, Bale; Giroud, Crouch
Players' Young Player of the Year
Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
2012/13 Club Awards
Shane Long - 11 goals
Top League Goalscorer
Shane Long - 9 goals
Wellington Nem - 8 assists
Fans' Player of the Year
Gordon; Coleman, Okore, Olsson, Ferreira; Mulumbu, Dorrans, Thorne; Morrison, Wellington Nem; Long
How will Clarke's future at West Bromwich go?
Read on to find out.