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Clarke stays grounded, O´Neill takes positives

West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke is taking his side’s stunning form in his stride following their fourth straight win on Saturday.

West Brom travelled to Sunderland and outplayed the home side in a 4-2 victory that saw them climb to third in the Premier League standings – their best start through 13 games in 59 years.

But despite their provisional standing in the Champions League places, Clarke is choosing to play down West Brom’s hot streak.

“All I know is up until now, we have done very well,” Clarke told Sky Sports.

“We have had a lot of plaudits and the players deserve it because so far, we have been a really good team.

“But you don’t get carried away in the Premier League. We are still this side of Christmas, there are a lot of games to be played, a lot of points to be fought for.

“Our focus is on Wednesday night against Swansea, that’s as far ahead as we look.”

Clarke claimed the squad he inherited from current England boss Roy Hodgson already had a solid spine.

“I’m a realist. I knew the squad of players I was taking over was a good squad, I knew it was a squad comfortable in the Premier League,” he said.

“They had finished mid-table and mid-table with 47 points both seasons. We knew we had added some good players to the squad. So far, we have done okay.”

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill took the positives out of the defeat, as his side found multiple ways to score despite shipping four goals.

“I think there’s a lot to take out of the match, a lot to take out of it. We have been beaten but we look as if we can maybe get a goal again now, which is very encouraging,” O’Neill said.

“We have a big game on Tuesday night (against QPR) and we will try to get ourselves prepared for that.”

The former Aston Villa boss was quick to leap to the defence of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who was directly responsible for allowing Shane Long to stroll into an empty net to put West Brom 2-0 up, as the Belgian shot-stopper spilled what should have been a straightforward catch.

“Simon has been fantastic for us, absolutely fantastic,” O’Neill said.

“He is entitled to something like that now and again. It’s absolutely and utterly out of character. It just slipped out. He has been terrific for us.”

Sat 24 Nov, 2012
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