Football - Clarke puzzled by January slump

West Brom boss Steve Clarke has got his best boffins on the case as the inquest continues into the alarming dip in form which scuppered his team's European dreams.

PA Sport

Albion's bright hopes of fighting for European qualification were badly undermined by a terrible run of results over the new year period.

Having taken the Barclays Premier League by storm over the first half of the campaign to put them within touching distance of the top four, Clarke's side failed to win a game in January to leave European football a highly unlikely prospect.

They currently sit in eighth position on 43 points - just four adrift of fifth-placed Arsenal - but need to overhaul not only the Gunners but also Liverpool and Everton if they are to snatch an unlikely Europa League berth.

Managerial rookie Clarke has always played down the Baggies' European ambitions but admits their traditional new year struggles are still causing him a headache.

"Within the team everybody dropped towards the end of December and in January for some reason," he said. "It's something we're still looking at and assessing to find out why.

"I'm trying to forget about January for now. I've got the medical staff looking at it now to see if they can dig anything up. I've got the fitness coach seeing if he can pick up anything from the data that month, just to see if there's anything we can tie it down to. We'll try to address it next season.

"We'll find out how good all these university graduates are and see if they can find the pattern for me."

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