Tag Archives: contrast

Nico Rosberg gives Lewis Hamilton"s Mercedes a boost after third day of test in Jerez

From Silverstone to Spa! Rosberg puts in the mileage to give Hamilton's Mercedes much-needed boost in Jerez

By
Simon Cass

PUBLISHED:

19:08 GMT, 7 February 2013

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UPDATED:

19:50 GMT, 7 February 2013

Lewis Hamilton has new teammate Nico Rosberg to thank for getting Mercedes' pre-season plans back on track after the German driver reeled off a staggering 148 laps of the Circuito de Jerez on Thursday.

Rosberg's Herculean effort – he put a much needed 407 miles on the new Mercedes W04, the equivalent of two grand prix distances – means it should be all systems go for Hamilton on Friday as he brings to a close the opening test of the 2013 season.

The mammoth stint was in stark contrast to the two previous days of running for Mercedes during which they managed to complete just 29 laps in total.

Going long into the night: Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes a much-needed boost in Jerez on Thursday

Going long into the night: Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes a much-needed boost in Jerez on Thursday

New team: Lewis Hamilton, who completed 14 laps yesterday, speaks to Rosberg

New team: Lewis Hamilton, who completed 14 laps yesterday, speaks to Rosberg

On Tuesday, Hamilton suffered a heart in the mouth moment when his brakes failed as he slowed from almost 200mph. After hitting the tyre wall the damage to Hamilton's car was enough to end his day's work after just twenty minutes behind the wheel.

Rosberg fared little better on the first day of action in Southern Spain, an electrical fault which sparked a small fire bring the Mercedes to a premature halt.

Delighted at the change in fortunes, Rosberg said: 'The last two days we were unlucky because they were small things but we were unable to solve them in a day.

Off track: Jenson Button spent most of the morning in the garage before a wobbly wheel forced him to park his McLaren

Off track: Jenson Button spent most of the morning in the garage before a wobbly wheel forced him to park his McLaren

'Today we really made up for it and put a smile on everyone's face. And it was a fantastic achievement to drive from Silverstone to Spa distance-wise with an F1 car with no problem what so ever. We were very consistent and I am feeling good because I can push it straight away.'

It was a day of mixed fortunes for McLaren as Jenson Button got off to another slow start, spending more of the morning in the garage than on the track.

And after returning to the circuit to complete 83 laps, the 2009 world champion brought the day's events to a close five minutes early when a wobbly rear wheel forced him to park his McLaren MP4-28 between turns seven and eight.

Tyson Fury wins WBC world heavyweight title eliminator

Fury eyes Klitschko world title shot after points decision over Johnson in Belfast

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UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 1 December 2012

Tyson Fury moved a step closer to a shot at Vitali Klitschko with a patient victory over American Kevin Johnson in Belfast.

The 24-year-old won the WBC world heavyweight title eliminator by a unanimous points decision, stretching his unbeaten record to 20 fights.

The first five rounds were largely uninspiring, although Fury was rarely troubled by his durable 33-year-old opponent, whose 2009 defeat to Klitschko was one of only two defeats prior to this bout.

Fists of Fury: Tyson Fury (left) lands a left on Kevin Johnson

Fists of Fury: Tyson Fury (left) lands a left on Kevin Johnson

Fury looked more convincing in the
sixth round but he had a point docked in the seventh and was not making a
notable impact on a slow-paced bout.

He made more of an impression with a combination in the eighth which saw the Wythenshawe-born fighter raise both arms aloft.

Although he was rarely troubled in
tonight's contest, Fury's cautious approach was in stark contrast to
several of his previous bouts.

Points decision: Tyson Fury celebrates winning the WBC heavyweight title eliminator

Points decision: Tyson Fury celebrates winning the WBC heavyweight title eliminator

Afterwards, Fury revealed the tactics
were planned as he said: 'Credit Kevin Johnson, he's a slippery,
slippery guy and I never went in to knock him out.

'He's not a guy to go and smash up.
He's a world class fighter. I boxed to a game plan and vowed not to let
my heart get the better of me.'

Johnson added on Channel 5: 'They
stuck to a very smart game plan. Not one time did he come out with that
anger and aggression and towards the end it got very boring.'

Cower at the Fury: Kevin Johnson covers up

Cower at the Fury: Kevin Johnson covers up

Lewis Hamilton: I"ve no regrets over leaving McLaren

Hamilton: I've no regrets over leaving McLaren… despite fact Mercedes haven't won a point in their last three races

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 1 November 2012

Lewis Hamilton has admitted to suffering no second thoughts regarding his move to Mercedes in the wake of their recent dismal form.

Since Hamilton announced he was quitting McLaren after 14 years with the Woking-based marque and signing a three-year deal with Mercedes, the German manufacturing giant has failed to score a single point in the last three races.

It is Mercedes' worst run since they returned to Formula One at the start of 2010, in stark contrast to the fact that in their previous 52 grands prix they had not scored on just four occasions.

On the move: Hamilton says he has no regrets over cutting ties with McLaren

On the move: Hamilton says he has no regrets over cutting ties with McLaren

It would further appear to highlight the folly of Hamilton's switch, which he has long stated was because he wanted a new challenge.

On the evidence of Mercedes' woeful run it may be he has bitten off more than he can chew if he is hoping to revive their fortunes.

Asked about Mercedes' run, Hamilton said: 'I've been told about it. It makes me even more driven to help them score points, and no, I'm not thinking 'have I made right decision'

'I'm very happy with the decision I made. What is happening to them doesn't have any impact on that.
People do sometimes lose their way. Even we (McLaren) have struggled in the past and not scored points.

'To be honest, I've not really focused on them to see what problems they've had with the car. I've not really noticed it.

'I've just been focusing on trying to get the constructors' title for this team, trying to get the maximum for us. It is theoretically still possible for us to win it, so I'm going to be all guns blazing for that.'

Steering a new course: Hamilton's new team have failed to win a point in the last three races

Steering a new course: Hamilton's new team have failed to win a point in the last three races

Steering a new course: Hamilton's new team have failed to win a point in the last three races

Appreciating the size of the task awaiting him at Mercedes when he officially joins on January 1, Hamilton added: 'I already knew how big it was going to be. I really thought about it long and hard, and I could see how big it was. Perhaps it's now growing.

'But as a task I'm really excited about it, excited to meet new people and to being in a different environment, and to mould myself into that environment.'

Hamilton experienced an altogether different world away from F1 this week as part of his work with the children's charity UNICEF.

One particular experience earlier this year was eye-opening enough for the 27-year-old when he visited the Philippines capital Manila.

But a visit to one of India's most impoverished areas, following the grand prix on the outskirts of New Delhi four days ago, clearly left an indelible mark upon him.

Podium regular: Hamilton is a regular at the top of the starting grid and in the top three finishers

Podium regular: Hamilton is a regular at the top of the starting grid and in the top three finishers

Podium regular: Hamilton is a regular at the top of the starting grid and in the top three finishers

Podium regular: Hamilton is a regular at the top of the starting grid and in the top three finishers

Surrounded by the splendour of Abu
Dhabi's multi-million pound Yas Marina circuit, the contrast compared to
his environment of the previous few days was not lost on him.

'It's insane. They're a billion miles apart, literally opposite ends of the spectrum,' said Hamilton. 'You have one of the wealthiest places we ever get to go here in Abu Dhabi, and I've just been to one of the poorest places I've ever seen.'

Clearly choked at this point, Hamilton added: 'It was very sad to see.

'I was there and I got to see an issue not many people are conscious of because we just go about our daily lives, including me.

'There are ladies having babies on the streets, malnourished kids that are allowed to die. No-one comes to the rescue. These babies don't even have a fighting chance.

'That's insane considering there is enough money in the world, there is enough to go round. And if there's not, print some more.'

Choked: Hamilton was shocked by some of the scenes in New Delhi

Choked: Hamilton was shocked by some of the scenes in New Delhi

As to the impact of Hamilton's visit, he appreciates it is likely to be 'miniscule' making 'the smallest of differences'.

But at least he hopes it might have raised awareness as he said: 'It all starts with one step.

'Growing up I've always wanted to be like…you know when you put a pebble in the pond and it creates ripples, well, I'd like to start that kind of chain reaction so others can follow.

'There are loads of people doing great things in the world, and it's no skin off my nose to go and spend a couple of days doing what I did. It was really incredible. I really enjoyed it.'

Lee Mason and his men come through Chelsea 5 Manchester United 4 unscathed: Graham Poll

Mason and his men come through Stamford Bridge test unscathed

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UPDATED:

01:29 GMT, 1 November 2012

The game went as smoothly as Lee Mason could have wanted and that is largely down to the exemplary attitude of both sets of players.

Apart from one show of petulance late on from Ryan Bertrand and some handbags between Nani and Oscar, everyone was well behaved and clearly heeded the advice from their clubs.

Quiet evening: All things considered, the game went well for Lee Mason

Quiet evening: All things considered, the game went well for Lee Mason

It was eight minutes before Mason had to blow for a free kick. He was also helped by his assistants getting the big decisions right, in stark contrast to Mark Clattenburg on Sunday.

John Brooks correctly awarded Chelsea their first penalty for Alex Buttner’s foul on Victor Moses and Jake Collin got the night’s big decision correct, seeing that Gary Cahill’s header had crossed the line.

Tripped: Alexander Buttner clips Victor Moses for penalty No 1

Tripped: Alexander Buttner clips Victor Moses for penalty No 1

If you have good assistants, it makes a huge difference.

Mason’s movement and positioning were poor but fans and players just want the big decisions to be right — and they were.

I"m doing things my way now, insists Wales boss Coleman

I'm doing things my way now, insists Wales boss Coleman

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UPDATED:

21:21 GMT, 11 October 2012

Wales manager Chris Coleman insists he
is finally doing things his own way as he heads into a World Cup
qualifier with Scotland that will have a huge bearing on whether he
stays in his job.

The former Fulham and Coventry City
boss has endured a nightmare start – losing his first four matches –
since taking over from erstwhile playing colleague Gary Speed.

Under pressure: Wales boss Chris Coleman

Under pressure: Wales boss Chris Coleman

Wales lost 6-1 in Serbia last month – their third heaviest defeat since the Second World War – leaving questions as to Coleman's suitability as boss.

He has since relieved Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey of his duties as captain, replacing the midfielder with Ashley Williams, and finally admits to having escaped the legacy of the previous regime.

Three points in Cardiff before a sell-out crowd will go a long way towards restoring confidence. But a fifth defeat would make his start the worst of any Wales manager.

Fridays' match is followed by a difficult trip to Croatia on Tuesday and adding two more defeats to a record that is in stark contrast to Speed's four victories from five will leave serious questions to be answered.

Coleman, however, was pleased to finally have escaped the pressure he felt at having to follow the path set down by his late friend, albeit a path which was successful.

'I have felt inhibited,' he said, 'I felt the pressure of keeping to the same philosophy – that things couldn't change. That you don't fix what isn't broken.

New captain: Ashley Williams

New captain: Ashley Williams

'But we are four games in and we haven't won. We haven't gone forward. I had to change things.

'After the Serbia game, my normal reaction would have been an aggressive one. But I immediately looked more at myself.

'I thought that I was doing things the way someone else was doing them. It's tough because a lot of those things were good – but they were someone else's.

'We had a rhythm and flow under Gary. But we have lost it. And I think the players were looking at me saying: “What do you want to do”

'That's why I made Ashley skipper. It's a subtle change. We wanted a more experienced captain and he ticks all those boxes.

'Look, you can try on someone else's jacket but if it doesn't fit you, you can't keep wearing it.'

Williams is a logical choice to assume captaincy responsibilities. He said: 'It always falls on the shoulders of the manager when you get results like the one we got in Serbia but all the boys really like him.

Boost: Gareth Bale

Boost: Gareth Bale

'We actually want to win for him. You hear it all the time but it's true in this case. He's going to be criticised but we'd like to turn things around for him because I don't think the stick has been deserved.

'We have let him down. We need to put it right.

'Speaking for the players, we all want to win for the manager. I'm sure we won't lose the next two matches.'

There are mitigating circumstances to Wales' sudden decline. Coleman has suffered horribly through withdrawals of his major players. For instance, he has not been able to name Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy in the same squad. Wales have also selected tough opposition in their friendlies. Mexico and Bosnia are strong at the moment.

Having said that, it was a shock that Wales conceded six goals just three days after a solid show with 10 men against Belgium.

'I don't think I will ever come to terms with what happened in Serbia, if I'm honest,' said Coleman. 'When you lose a game of football it's never a nice feeling. But when you get hit for six, especially for your country, you never swallow that.

'That feeling after the game, I never want to experience that again. Freak results happen, bad results happen. It makes you want to work harder, but come to terms with it No. Forget about it No. Brush it to one side You have to.

'The questions are: “How do we prepare for Scotland” and “How can we get three points”

'We have trained with a good intensity this week. It will be fast, aggressive and the atmosphere will be fantastic. I hope that we embrace it.'

Joe Hart calls for Manchester City to play like champions

We need to play like champions, says Hart as City look to recover from shaky start

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UPDATED:

10:38 GMT, 28 September 2012

Joe Hart has tipped Manchester City to put their indifferent start to the season behind them and remind everyone why they are champions when they travel to Fulham on Saturday.

City have drawn three of their five league games so for this season, leaking seven goals in the process. In all competitions Roberto Mancini's side have conceded an alarming 16 goals in eight games.

That form is in stark contrast to the 17 clean sheets kept last season en route to winning the title, and City and England No 1 Hart has called for improvement on Saturday.

Stuttering: City were held by Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium last weekend

Stuttering: City were held by Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium last weekend

No 1: Hart has called for City to regain their form

No 1: Hart has called for City to regain their form

'We go in there with confidence, we’re the champions and we need to play like champions,' Hart told City's official website.

'It’s going to be hard, it was hard last year – they took the first points of the season off us last season.

'The year before we played really well and beat them comfortably, so I think we need a little bit more of that.'

Hart, 25, admitted that he enjoys playing at Craven Cottage.

'It’s always a tough game with a good crowd that appreciates football,' he added.

'They’re not too harsh though, they get behind their team and Fulham are a good side.'

Lewis Hamilton to choose between McLaren and Mercedes before Japanese Grand Prix

Hamilton to decide whether to quit McLaren for Mercedes before Japanese Grand Prix

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UPDATED:

19:03 GMT, 27 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton is to make a decision on his Formula One future before next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton's answer, on whether he remains with McLaren or opts to move to Mercedes, could potentially come as early as Friday, although it is understood the situation is not 100 per cent finalised.

The likelihood is Hamilton will continue his partnership with McLaren that now stretches back 14 years after he was initially signed up as a 13-year-old.

Decision to make: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton's future remains unclear

Decision to make: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton's future remains unclear

A source close to McLaren said after the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday that a contract to stay loyal to the Woking-based marque was '85-90 per cent' resolved.

Given the current economic climate, McLaren's initial offer saw them slash the 27-year-old's yearly salary by a third from 10million to around 6.75m and on a par with team-mate Jenson Button, resulting in the need to look elsewhere.

With management company, XIX Entertainment run by impresario Simon Fuller, known to have entered into negotiations with Mercedes, the German manufacturing giant then put in a sizeable bid.

It is understood Mercedes also offered Hamilton greater freedom with regard to his image rights and less impact on his personal time from corporate sponsorship appearances.

With McLaren's hand forced, they are believed to have increased their annual salary offer by a further 2m, and more in line with Mercedes.

Further negotiations have taken place behind the scenes these past few days since the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit where team principal Martin Whitmarsh and Hamilton both appeared more relaxed.

Rollercoaster: Hamilton has had an up-and-down season at McLaren

Rollercoaster: Hamilton has had an up-and-down season at McLaren

It was in stark contrast to the tense atmosphere that pervaded the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix as Hamilton landed in hot water with the team for tweeting telemetry data from qualifying.

A few days later, when former team boss and current BBC television pundit Eddie Jordan remarked a deal with Mercedes was done and an announcement imminent, it sparked a feeding frenzy at Monza ahead of the race in Italy, with Hamilton bombarded with questions.

Hamilton, however, kept his cool on the track to win from pole and thrust himself back in the title hunt, following which McLaren began their concerted push to retain the 2008 world champion.

Another pole followed in Singapore, yet despite what Hamilton described as a 'heart-breaking' gearbox failure when comfortably leading, he was positive and upbeat when he spoke after the race.

It was similar with Whitmarsh who claimed McLaren and Hamilton 'are a good team together', with the latter dealing with his disappointment 'as a world champion'.

Flashing the cash: Mercedes have tried to tempt Hamilton to their team

Flashing the cash: Mercedes have tried to tempt Hamilton to their team

Whitmarsh refused to speculate on whether a deal would be done before Japan, which starts next Friday in Suzuka, but it now appears certain that will be the case, with McLaren seemingly beating Mercedes to Hamilton's signature.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn today indicated talks were ongoing with Michael Schumacher, whose three-year contract expires at the end of the current campaign.

'It's still under discussion, I'm afraid,' said Brawn on BBC Radio 5 Live.
'I can't comment very much on that, but Michael's been a huge asset to the team, he's really taken us forward.

'I do think Michael contributes an awful lot, so I think the decision for Michael to stay or not continue is a difficult one.

'Obviously he's very involved in that decision, and discussions are ongoing at the moment.'

Asked whether Hamilton could be joining Mercedes, Brawn naturally ducked the issue, adding: 'I think any ambitious team looks at the top drivers and we're an ambitious team.

'But I think there's an awful lot of speculation. We will have some things to say in the next few weeks, next few months, and then all will become clear.'

When contacted, McLaren issued a 'no comment'.

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool"s West Bromwich win shows improvement

Spot the difference Rodgers says first win shows Liverpool have transformed

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UPDATED:

09:13 GMT, 27 September 2012

Manager Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will not easily loosen their grip on the Capital One Cup as he looks forward to a home fourth-round meeting with his former club Swansea.

Rodgers decided to change the entire team for the tie at West Brom but two goals from on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin ensured their first win in domestic football this season.

It was in stark contrast to the 3-0 defeat suffered by the Reds against the Baggies in the opening Barclays Premier League encounter of the campaign.

Voila: Nuri Sahin gave a sign of what might be to come

Voila: Nuri Sahin gave a sign of what might be to come

Rodgers said: 'It was a symbolic night because it shows how far we are moving as a group from our first day of this season.

'Then, we were a bit disjointed and players were not quite understanding my methods.

'But in the last three or four weeks our tempo and relentless possession has started to come through in games.'

Rodgers, who left the Swans for Anfield this summer, said: 'The Swansea game will be a special occasion, very much so.

'It is a wonderful club, a brilliant club, and I was in no rush to leave there.

'I could only leave there to go to another special club. It will be a great night.

'I said to the players afterwards that the cup is stored at Anfield and I don't want to give it up too easy.

'I want us to fight even though it is difficult because of our lack of depth in the group. It is a competition we want to do well in.'

Rodgers in confident the best is still to come from Sahin who was also an Arsenal target before moving to Anfield.

Much better: Brendan Rodgers (right) was pleased with the performance

Much better: Brendan Rodgers (right) was pleased with the performance

He said: 'Nuri is still getting up to speed. It has been difficult for him.

'He was out for a long time and has come here having missed a big part of pre-season.

'But every day he is getting better. He has got great football arrogance, is terrific on the ball.'

Baggies boss Steve Clarke, a former number two at Liverpool, believes the rare mistake by keeper Ben Foster for Sahin's opening goal was crucial after Gabriel Tamas had broken the deadlock.

He said: 'We said we'd have a go, we certainly started that way. I think their first goal knocked the stuffing out of us a bit.

At the double: Sahin pockets his second goal

At the double: Sahin pockets his second goal

'I don't know why, maybe because it was such a soft goal to lose, but it knocked us back a bit in the first half.

'It is unusual for Ben. I don't think it's even worth having an in-depth discussion about it. It is not like Ben, it doesn't happen very often and we move on.'

Clarke admitted left-back Liam Ridgewell is a doubt for Sunday's derby at Aston Villa after limping out of action during the first half with a calf injury.

Andy Murray: I used to get hate mail sent to my locker at Wimbledon

Murray: I used to get hate mail sent to my locker at Wimbledon

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UPDATED:

21:23 GMT, 15 September 2012

Andy Murray will bring the small Scottish town of Dunblane to a standstill when he makes his first, personally chosen, public appearance as US Open champion on Sunday.

At some point, he will take a microphone to remind those who knew him as a boy that he will always think of the town as his home.

Thousands will cheer him to the echo, proud to a man, woman and child that Britain's first men's Grand Slam tennis champion for 76 years should have returned to celebrate among them.

King of New York: Andy Murray enjoys the moment as he is crowned US Open champion

King of New York: Andy Murray enjoys the moment as he is crowned US Open champion

But the reception will be in stark contrast to the treatment Murray says he has received in the past at the home of British tennis, Wimbledon.

The 25-year-old Scot, who beat reigning US Open champion Novak Djokovic in a dramatic five-set final in New York on Monday night, won great admiration during two appearances at Wimbledon this summer.

His defeat by Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final is remembered for his teary-eyed speech thanking the crowd for their support.

Then he eclipsed that performance by defeating Federer to win an Olympic gold medal on the Centre Court three weeks later. But as messages of support overwhelmed Murray following his triumph in New York last week, he revealed how much abuse he had attracted earlier in his career at Wimbledon.

'I was still a kid but I was getting notes to my locker at Wimbledon that said: “I hope you lose every tennis match for the rest of your life”,' said Murray.

'People within the grounds of Wimbledon were saying [offensive] stuff to me, too.'

You've earned it: Murray kisses his trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic

You've earned it: Murray kisses his trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic

Murray's reputation had plummeted when, following initial rave reviews after he arrived on the barren British tennis landscape as the 17-year-old heir-apparent to Tim Henman, Murray made a joke against the English football team, saying that he would 'support whoever England were playing against' in the 2006 World Cup.

The comment has haunted him ever since, even though it was clearly intended as a lighthearted remark during an interview with Henman, during which the former British tennis No 1 had mocked Scotland's failure to qualify for the tournament in Germany.

It's my time: The moment Murray became a Grand Slam winner

It's my time: The moment Murray became a Grand Slam winner

But Murray's popularity rating had also suffered as a consequence of his, at times, petulant and foulmouthed reaction to the unfolding drama of matches around the world.

'It's a shame it took me to cry at Wimbledon to maybe change the perception of me,' said Murray last week.

'But the support I have had over the past few months has been unbelievable. It has definitely helped.'

Murray knows he polarised opinion in Britain during his rise to the top.

He
said: 'Maybe I've said things I shouldn't have said. You can get away
with that when you are young, but at 19 or 20 people start to question
the way you act on court. Everything you say is judged. I always felt I
hadn't done anything wrong but I started to understand how things
worked.

'I started to become a bit more guarded. Also, I spoke with people about how to deal with that stuff.

'You need to try to be yourself as much as possible but, at the same time, if people don't like you, it's not your problem.'

Murray believes that this summer he has reconnected with the Wimbledon
public. 'Over the last few months I have definitely had that connection
come back,' he said.

'I hope it stays that way.

'Obviously, you see the hard work that the British Olympic athletes have done but the support of the nation, and the media, helped the performance of those athletes at the Games this summer, no question.'

Now Murray has regained that support, he will surely do his utmost to retain it.

And a joyous homecoming in Dunblane on Sunday will be the perfect way to demonstrate the public's affection for the champion who was once characterised as just a grumpy young man.

Steve Clarke says West Brom Premier League start is no fluke

It's no fluke! Clarke insists he's not surprised his Baggies are flying high

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UPDATED:

14:58 GMT, 14 September 2012


Flying start: West Brom manager Steve Clarke isn't surprised by his team's early season form

Flying start: West Brom manager Steve Clarke isn't surprised by his team's early season form

Steve Clarke insists West Brom's flying start to the campaign is no fluke as they search for the win at Fulham on Saturday which could take them to the top of the Barclays Premier League.

The Baggies have collected seven points from their opening three games and would move into pole position should they triumph and Chelsea and Swansea slip up at QPR and Aston Villa respectively.

It is in stark contrast to last season when they lost four of their first five matches before recovering under Roy Hodgson to finish in 10th position.

Clarke said: 'Has the start exceeded my expectations No. I'm an optimistic person. I knew if we prepared properly for the games, we could get a good points total.

'As a coach and as a professional, I targeted nine. But I think seven is a fair return when you look at our performances.

'It wasn't a lucky seven points, it was a deserved seven points.

'But, for us now, that has gone, it's (in the) past. We now have to look forward to the next run of games and look to improve and build on the terrific platform we have given ourselves.'

Clarke is keen to play down the possibility of Albion going top of the table.

He said: 'We could be top – but we stay where we are or we could drop down the league.

'There are lots of teams below us that could jump above us with a win. It is very early days.

'I remember when I was a player, we used to have a bonus system, and you used to wait for your bonus and the league table never counted until after five matches.

'I think that is something you learn. Early on, you just get the points on the board. If we are top of the table, that's a bonus.'

Looking up: West Brom beat Everton 2-0 on their last outing, with Romelu Lukaku (pictured) scoring one of the goals

Looking up: West Brom beat Everton 2-0 on their last outing, with Romelu Lukaku (pictured) scoring one of the goals

Clarke has made a favourable impression with Baggies fans in his first managerial role with home wins over Liverpool and Everton and a draw at Tottenham.

He said: 'I'm not sure the pressure has gone but, if after three games we were still chasing a win, it would be a different kind of pressure.

'But there is still a pressure there now. We go down to Fulham, which is a difficult place to go, and our record there in recent years is not very good.

'That is another pressure. We have to go there with maybe a little more expectation than people had of the first three games.

'We have to go down there, deal with that, and we still have to perform the way we have performed.'

Clarke admits midfielder Zoltan Gera is back in contention to face his former club after playing twice for Hungary.

Gera scored a superb goal against Everton – his first start for nine months after knee ligament damage – but was on the substitute's bench for the next two league games.

Back in contention: Zoltan Gera (left), seen here in international action for Hungary last week, could face his former club Fulham

Back in contention: Zoltan Gera (left), seen here in international action for Hungary last week, could face his former club Fulham

Clarke said: 'He's been very unlucky. If I'm honest, he exceeded my expectations over pre-season and he put himself in a position where I thought he was ready to play in the first game.

'I thought he would play a lot of it on adrenalin, which he did because it was such a big occasion for him, and the week after in training he dipped a little bit, which I half expected.

'Since then I've tried to look after him and he's trained well. He has been away on international duty, represented his country twice and he's back in pushing for selection again.'

Right-back Steven Reid is West Brom's major injury concern after he suffered a hamstring injury during the second half of the 2-0 success over Everton.

But on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of that match.