Shane Long full of praise for Steve Clarke's influence at West Brom
Last Updated: 01/10/12 6:29pm
Steve Clarke: Has impressed Shane Long with his footballing philosophy
West Bromwich Albion striker Shane Long believes Steve Clarke has added a passing style to the resilience already at the club.
The Baggies became very difficult to beat under Roy Hodgson and questions were raised about how they would fare following Clarke's arrival during the summer, but so far this season they have been in impressive form.
Sunday's 1-1 draw with Midlands rivals Aston Villa kept West Brom flying high in sixth place, and Long believes Clarke deserves a great deal of credit.
The Republic of Ireland international said: "He has brought his own stamp on our football. Straight from the start it was all about passing football, and how he wants us to play.
"When he has an idea, he is able to put it across really well to the players. He has installed a bit of confidence in the lads to receive the ball in any situation and we are dealing with it pretty well.
"It is nice what you do in training every day comes onto the pitch on a Saturday and that has been the case so far this season.
"It's enjoyable times at West Brom - good football to watch, good to play in and we are getting results at the end of it as well."
Long believes there were further signs of progress at the weekend as Darren Bent's equaliser denied West Brom all three points in a closely-fought derby.
He said: "It shows how far we have come as a team, to come to Villa Park in a big derby and leave disappointed with one point. It's good for us a team to expect more from ourselves.
"If we put in performances like that for the rest of the season, we will go very far."
Long is content to adopt the role as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
He said: "It is hard work on your own but we do play football. It means there are not many balls launched up to six feet tall centre-halves to come climbing over the top of me!
"James Morrison keeps threading those balls through and I thought he should have got man of the match at Villa. He was brilliant at picking people out."