Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Clarke: Red cards should not mask win

Steve Clarke was keen to focus on West Brom's performance rather than the referee's decisions

West Brom manager Steve Clarke hopes his side's almost perfect away performance does not get overshadowed by the three red cards dished out at Southampton.

The Baggies headed to St Mary's with just three wins in 14 league games but returned to form in style, with Marc-Antoine Fortune, Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long all scoring in a 3-0 win. The three points saw them set a new club record for Premier League points (48) and wins (14), although it is referee Robert Madley's top-flight debut that stole the show.

The Yorkshireman sent off Saints pair Gaston Ramirez and Danny Fox as well as West Brom's Fortune - something manager Clarke hopes does not draw attention away from his side's fine performance. "I think the win is the most important topic," he said. "We've been scratching around for a win a bit recently."

He added: "The performances have been okay by and large. We have become a little bit of a reactive team, where we wait to the game happens and then we go chasing it. We do that quite well but we spoke about getting the first goal, we did that and from there we controlled the game.

"It was almost a perfect away performance. The three front players were great, not just causing Southampton a problem but defensively they worked hard for the team, closed the game down at the right times. The shape of the team was good - something we've worked on this week. It is nice when it pays off."

Clarke had not seen a replay of Fortune's sending-off before speaking to the media, but agreed with Madley's decision to send off Ramirez and Fox.

"They tell me Marc pushed him and his hand caught him in the face so if that is the case we will take the punishment," he said. "I thought the other two red cards were clear as well, although it is a shame when a game finishes 10 against nine."

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino had also not seen the incidents back but could not have missed his side's woeful display. The performance was the worst since the Argentinian replaced Nigel Adkins at the helm in January and brought an abrupt end to a six-match unbeaten streak.

"From my point of view we just didn't start in the game," Pochettino said. "We didn't really get into the game at all. We didn't feel comfortable, especially when we conceded the first goal in the sixth minute. Then we became a bit fearful of their attacking strikers, who were quite fast, strong and physically fit.

"From that point on we were uncomfortable and never really got into the game. I think we had a bad day but, then again, the good days, the good victories and bad days give me a lot of information as a manager so I have learned a lot."

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