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
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.
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"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."