Clarke: European qualification not a realistic target for West Brom

The Baggies boss believes the team can reach the 50-point mark by the end of the campaign, but is not expecting a Europa League spot after a mid-season slump in form

West Brom manager Steve Clarke has insisted that European qualification is not in the club’s plans this season, instead maintaining avoiding relegation was the key aim.

The Baggies reached the all-important 40-point mark with Saturday’s win over Sunderland, effectively confirming their safety from the drop for another season.

And Clarke, despite feeling that his team could have reached the target earlier in the season with a season-ending tally of 50 in sight, does not believe qualification for the Europa League is realistic.

"I think we are still a little bit away from there," Clarke told reporters.

"It is difficult to gauge the Europa League because it only goes down to fifth position at the moment. That's all you can say and maybe fifth position is just a little bit beyond us at the moment.

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"I'm pleased we reached 40 points but also disappointed it has taken us to the end of February to reach it because we put ourselves in a great position.”

West Brom started the season in fine form, occupying the Champions League spots for the opening months of the campaign, before a recent downturn in results saw them drop to seventh.

And Clarke has rued the slump, with him now reassessing a realistic points tally come the end of May.

He continued: "I was hopeful we could reach the target a little bit earlier. The lads know me well. I don't smile, I'm a little bit grumpy and I just keep pushing them.

"I know the talent we have here and I know what we have in this group, and I want to keep pushing them so hopefully they go on and have a really good season. Fifty points now becomes the next target and a realistic one."