Sport : Football

Clarke: Survival still first target

23rd September 2012, 01:44pm

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Lukaku fires home against Reading

Lukaku fires home against Reading

West Brom manager Steve Clarke insists Barclays Premier League survival is still the main priority despite his side's flying start to the campaign.

Albion were lying in third spot after Saturday's 1-0 win over Reading lifted their points tally to 10 from the opening five matches.

A second-half strike from on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku was sufficient to maintain the Baggies' 100 per cent home record but Clarke has his feet firmly on the ground.

The former Chelsea number two said: "The aspirations are the same. We just go from game to game. There will come a point in the season where hopefully we can look at things, assess where we are, and put some definite targets down.

"But the primary objective for 75 per cent of the Premier League is to reach the margin of points that will keep you safe. That's what we're after.

"Yes, the start has been pleasing but I don't look at the table. I look at the 10 points from five games. I think it's a good return and a fair return.

"Everyone talks about 40 points as keeping you safe but you won't know for sure until you get the other side of January, whether the top teams win a lot of games or whether they don't. That normally decides the margin of safety."

Signing Lukaku has proved a masterstroke and he followed up his goal as a substitute against Liverpool with a clinical strike from the edge of the box in his first league start for Albion.

Clarke said: "I knew of him. Obviously he was a big star in Belgium and everyone was looking at him. He came across here and I have good contacts at Chelsea who knew about him.

"He didn't play much at Chelsea so obviously you're looking at him and seeing what he's like in training and how he's done.

"He had a number of clubs he could have gone to, we're just thankful he came here to the Albion.

"I'm not sure I want to take any credit for it. I had an open, honest conversation. I told him what he could expect in terms of training and I told him he could expect to play matches for us.

"I told him if he applied himself in the proper manner, he would go back to Chelsea a better player."

Reading are anchored at the foot of the table and still searching for their first win since being promoted from the npower Championship.

But Royals manager Brian McDermott is convinced results will improve once his players attain the heights he believes they are capable of.

McDermott said: "I just know our players are better than what we are showing at the moment.

"I know that, and we will be better as the games come thick and fast.

"The players are confident enough, they've just won the Championship.

"It's just a case of getting a result, keep going, doing the right things and not dwelling on what has gone on.

"In any league, you want to win games and you put the pressure on yourself to win games."

"Nothing will just land in our laps. But we had a difficult start last year and managed to pick ourselves up.

"There is going to be no one moping around. We can't afford to have that in the camp. It is a case of getting each other going.

"This has been the longest week ever after the performance against Spurs and this was an improvement on that, which wasn't that difficult. It is gradual steps."

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