petek, 03. maj 2013

McAuley hails boss Clarke after West Brom register record points haul

After beating their Premier League best with four games left, the defender has revealed a phone call last summer convinced the players they were in for a good season under the Scot

Gareth McAuley has hailed the success of West Brom boss Steve Clarke during his first season at the Hawthorns after the Baggies registered a record points haul in the Premier League.

The 49-year-old has guided West Brom to eighth in the top-flight standings after accruing 48 points, with four games still to play.

And the Baggies players were impressed by Clarke instantly, as McAuley reveals, when their new boss took the time to call each player when he took over last summer.

"The gaffer phoned everyone and spoke to them which was a nice touch," McAuley told the club’s official website.

"I had not long finished playing golf while on holiday in Portugal when he called. He told me to get my rest in because when we get back in we’re going to be working hard.

"He said we’d got a great season ahead of us and he was right about that. He’s been fantastic since he came into the club."

Clarke just under four years as Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea and McAuley believes his experience of European football will help West Brom push on and challenge for a spot in Europe next season.

"You look at his CV and see where he has worked in the past and it makes sense, he added. "He’s been in and around top clubs playing European football for a long time. There’s a great wealth of knowledge there.

"He’s intelligent and he studies football. He’s very astute in terms of our preparation and we could tell from day one he was going to be good.

"He’s built on the groundwork [former manager] Roy [Hodgson] put in. His philosophy is to work hard and he expects 100 per cent from everyone, every day. We’re all looking forward to finishing the season on a high and doing the same again next season."

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Luuk de Jong vows to fight back

The Dutch striker has failed to impress in his first season in the Bundesliga but believes he can still prove himself as a top striker in one of Europe's biggest leagues

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Luuk de Jong has vowed to win his place back in the first team after falling out of favour at Lucien Favre's side.

The Netherlands forward, who scored 25 times in the Eredivisie last year, has netted just six Bundesliga goals  since his €12 million [L10.2m] move from Twente last summer.

However, De Jong is determined to fight for a starting berth and has taken solace from the fact that it has not worked out for all foreign imports in their maiden campaign in Germany's top flight. 

“Of course you’re disappointed when you don’t play. The coach has decided this. I hope I can soon be part of the team and help them on the pitch again,” he told Express in Germany.

“I have to show in training every day that I want to play. There have been other strikers for whom not everything has gone perfectly in their first year in the Bundesliga. I have scored important goals, and I need to carry on working.”

Die Fohlen sit one point back of a European place with three games to go in the Bundesliga calendar.

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Swansea can beat Manchester City again to end poor run, insists Ben Davies

A late Luke Moore winner last season saw off Roberto Mancini's men and the Swans full-back believes they repeat the feat despite a poor run of form since their Capital One Cup win

Ben Davies has backed Swansea to emulate the heroics of last season and capture a "big scalp" against Manchester City on Saturday.

The game at the Liberty Stadium is something of a dead rubber with the Swans sitting comfortably in ninth place and Manchester City’s Premier League title challenge over, but the Welsh club will be hoping to end a run of six games without a win since lifting the Capital One Cup.

And Davies insists the home side will giving it their all as they look to spring another surprise on Roberto Mancini's side, just as they did last March thanks to a late goal from Luke Moore.

"Manchester City is one we have to go into and hope to get something out of as otherwise this run will carry on," Davies told Wales Online.

"Beating City last season was probably our best Premier League win, it was one of the big scalps we have had. There is no reason why we can't go and do it again.

"We are a confident bunch of players and I am sure if we work hard then we can get something out of the game."

Davies, who turned 20 last week, is relishing the challenge to keep his place in Michael Laudrup’s side amid the return of Neil Taylor, who is closing in on a first-team comeback after breaking and dislocating his ankle in September.

"It is great to have him back in the squad, and it is good for me too," he added.

"It means we have competition now and we will be both fighting for the shirt."

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