West Brom fires coach Steve Clarke

West Bromwich Albion moved to halt its slide down the English

Premier League by firing coach Steve Clarke on Saturday, hours

after the club slumped to a fourth straight loss.

Clarke lasted just 18 months in his first full-time managerial

position, having previously been assistant coach at Chelsea – where

he worked under Jose Mourinho in two straight league title-winning

campaigns – West Ham and Liverpool.

Clarke guided West Brom to an eighth-place finish in the Premier

League last season but Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Cardiff left the

team just two points and two places above the bottom three. In

2013, West Brom has won seven of 34 games, picking up only 31

points in that period.

”This club’s track record proves we do not take such decisions

lightly, having only enforced a change in this position three times

in approximately 14 years,” sporting and technical director

Richard Garlick said in a statement.

”But with key games coming thick and fast, we felt it was

important we acted now to give the club the best possible chance of

a successful outcome this season.”

Clarke is the fourth coach to lose his job in the Premier League

this season, after Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland), Ian Holloway

(Crystal Palace) and Martin Jol (Fulham). Clarke’s assistant, Kevin

Keen, was also removed.

Joint assistant coach Keith Downing will temporarily be in

control of the first team until a permanent replacement is

found.

West Brom has arguably its strong squad in years, having broken

the club’s transfer record twice on deadline day in September to

sign Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe for a combined 12

million pounds ($19.5 million).

But the loss of striker Romelu Lukaku, who scored 17 goals on

loan at the Baggies from Chelsea last season, has been keenly felt.

A win at Manchester United – its only victory in its last 10 games

– and a draw at Chelsea have been rare positive results.

In its statement, West Brom said the board made a ”unanimous

decision” and took into account results as a whole in a

”disappointing” 2013.

”Our player wage bill is the highest in the club’s history and

we feel we have built a squad capable of being very competitive in

the Premier League,” Garlick said.

Clarke took over at West Brom after Roy Hodgson left to become

England manager.

Its next game is at home to Hull on Saturday.