STEVE CLARKE says he is looking forward to the opening day of the Premier League season, as his new West Bromwich Albion side prepare to meet his former club Liverpool.
Clarke was confirmed as the Baggies’ new boss on Monday, signing a two-year contract to replace Roy Hodgson, less than a month after leaving his post as assistant manager at Anfield, following the departure of Kenny Dalglish.
Fittingly, the fixture computer has thrown up an immediate reunion with his former club, as Liverpool, now managed by Brendan Rodgers, travel to The Hawthorns for the opening game of the new league season. Clarke, though, insists he harbours no ill feeling towards his former club, and says he is looking forward to the clash on August 18.
“I’m delighted,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but good memories from my time at Liverpool, so to have them for my first game at the Hawthorns will be fantastic. It takes a lot to get me excited, but this morning I woke up really excited.”
Clarke was appointed at Anfield in January 2011, one of Dalglish’s first acts upon his return as manager. He was widely credited for his work on the defensive side of the Reds’ game.
And while he admits he was left “disappointed” by his exit from the club, he says he is realistic enough to accept the decision made by Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners.
“Losing my job at Liverpool over the summer was disappointing,” Clarke added. “Football has changed, success has to be instant and it has to be on a level expected at whatever club you’re at.
“If you look at Harry Redknapp at Tottenham, success can only be measured in the context of the club you’re working for.
“Obviously it was disappointing. I was disappointed for Kenny, that’s his club and for him to leave in that way was not nice for Kenny, so I felt for him.
“But the game’s changed and you have to accept that if you don’t meet the expectations of the people who run the club, you have to pay the price.”
The trip to West Brom is part of a tricky looking start to the season for Liverpool. They welcome Manchester City to Anfield for their first home league game on August 25, and face both Manchester United and Arsenal before September is out, as well as trips to Sunderland and Norwich.