| 18.4°C Dublin

Clarke's backroom bliss comes under threat

Steve Clarke has swiftly eradicated any fears that Roy Hodgson's departure could result in West Bromwich Albion unravelling, but there could be turbulence ahead.

Clarke is facing the first obstacle since his appointment as the English FA prepares an official approach for Dan Ashworth, Albion's highly-regarded sporting and technical director, this week. The FA has targeted Ashworth as the leading contender to take charge in a similar role at St George's Park, after Gareth Southgate turned down the post in July.

Ashworth is understood to be aware of the FA's interest and must decide whether to stay, or take on the daunting task of overseeing the future of English football. He has established an excellent reputation after spearheading West Brom's recruitment policy and academy.

This is the man who discovered Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob, the two outstanding performers on Saturday, for a combined fee of just £175,000.

Nobody knew who Peter Odemwingie was when he arrived from Russia two years ago, but he underlined his importance with a stunning contribution for the opening goal. Albion's victory, their third in four games under Clarke, guaranteed their best start to a season since the 1978-'79 campaign under Ron Atkinson and Odemwingie believes Clarke has already silenced any doubters.

He said: "He has started smoothly and looks like someone with more experience than a first-timer. We needed some time to see his training methods and how he wanted us to play but he is very ambitious."

Clarke's tactical changes here yielded far better rewards than the tweaks made by David Moyes in the second half. The introduction of Odemwingie was pivotal as his exquisite cross presented Shane Long with an easy finish for his third goal inside a week. Albion finished strongly and Gareth McAuley nodded in Chris Brunt's corner to condemn Moyes to only his first defeat in 12 league games. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent