In defence of Lee Clark

Here is an article by Nat, looking at the manager.

My Dad dragged me to St.Andrews. Honestly. My mum got me to go to a dance recital at the NIA around Christmas 1998, when my dad got free tickets to Blues vs. Sunderland at home. I was so jealous of my Dad. The dance recital was awful, and Blues drew 0-0 with Gary Rowett (my first favourite player) missing a sitter with five minutes to go, according to the (what will be very much missed in the long run) Sports’ Argus. I was so bloody jealous. But by the end of that season, Blues had sorted it out, my Dad had bought himself and I a season ticket for the last six games including the play-offs. We lost to Watford (Chris Holland’s penalty that night ruined my life). But still, the excitement, the atmosphere, the general positivity, I was hooked. I loved the Blues, I went to Villa Park once with a relative to watch Filth-Leicester but sod it, I loved the Blues from there on in.

Which is what makes me sad now. Under Gold and Sullivan’s ownership at times people were very apathetic, we got crowds of around 16,000 against the likes of Ipswich & Bristol City, yet at least we knew we’d be back in the Premier League sooner or later. Now, we get crowds closer to 13,000, and the fans are wondering if we will be in the top tier, second tier or League One this time in twelve months; well if we are honest, most probably just hope we are a club this time in twelve months!

In all my time as a Blues fan I’ve never seen the crowd turn on the manager so quickly. Blues fans generally don’t do what the Villa ‘fans’ do and write on bedsheets. TF knew his time as gaffer was up as much as everyone else did. I was there vs. Norwich in ‘06 for the relatively muffled ‘we want Brucey out chant’. There were the sporadic groans under The Rat, and absolutely nothing under Chris Hughton. But genuinely, I’ve never seen or heard a crowd turn like the current inhabitants of St.Andrews have on Lee Clark.

I for one, feel very sorry for the bloke. Let’s just take away all the players, all the tactics; let’s take away the football generally. Lee Clark is the subordinate of a complex regime that’s gone completely to pot financially. He has to work within severe constraints of what we can and cannot afford. You cannot blame Lee Clark for the financial constraints, it doesn’t put him on the back foot; it puts him in a bloody wheelchair when compared to a lot of clubs in this division. The three relegated clubs, Bolton, Blackburn and the Dingles have either kept together the squad or added to it; Bolton have kept it together, to a large extent so have Blackburn but then have signed players such as Jordan Rhodes, Colin Kazim-Richards and Leon Best this summer. Wolves have reinvested the money they made on Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis on players who will do well in the Championship; Tongo Dumbia (or whatever his name is) looks absolutely brilliant, whilst they’ve still kept hold of Wayne Hennesey, Roger Johnson and Kevin Doyle. Imagine two years ago a team in the Championship with those latter three players; they wouldn’t have been at short odds to win the league, they would be at Stuart Little odds. Yet there are more clubs with financial muscle; Forest, Leicester, Cardiff and Huddersfield are just another four teams that will have spent more than us this summer. Lee Clark building a promotion winning squad on this budget; it’s like racing in F1 in a Ford Fiesta.

Now look at the team. Clark inherited a lot of them from Hughton or before. The first thing I have to say about the team is that we could put out an XI over thirty years of age (if fit) that wouldn’t be a million miles from our strongest side; Lucas, Carr, Pablo, Caldwell, Robinson, Elliot, Mullins, Bouba Diop, Lovenkrands, Zigic, King. Only Jack Butland, Curtis Davies and Chris Burke and maybe Keith Fahey could automatically complain at not being in that team. If I was to have one firm criticism of Lee Clark, it is that he didn’t help this situation by signing the likes of Lovenkrands and Mullins, but then you think maybe his hand was forced by the financial situation. When we got tormented by Barnsley the other week, the one thing I noticed is the speed that Barnsley attacked us at times, they completely overawed us, we couldn’t cope; we needed refreshing but we didn’t have it in our locker, a fair few of our players are simply too old and battled weary to get themselves up for the battle, in my honest opinion. Their juice was sucked through a straw last season.

In addition, the injuries we have had are horrendous. Stevie Carr is out for the season; his replacement (and, in my opinion, a very, very good replacement) Paul Caddis is out for a while. Curtis Davies has had spells on the sidelines, so as has Pablo. David Murphy’s fitness has caused enough concern that the OAP-enfant terrible Paul Robinson has been signed up. The signing of Papa Bouba Diop for a month is another example of trying to fit rectangles into square holes; in the past, these sort of players would’ve been signed for a while longer. But we are desperate, just like Doncaster last season when they signed the likes of Habib Beye, El-Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda on short deals; Doncaster ended up going down to League One.

But generally, that doesn’t matter. For a lot of this season, let us face reality, we have been garbage. Well for nearly all of this season. Marlon King hasn’t been anywhere near as sharp as he was last season. Chris Burke hasn’t been skinning people like he used to (whether he has been told to protect the makeshift RB whoever that may be I don’t know). Curtis Davies has marshalled the defence like Chief Wiggum. Signings such as Darren Ambrose and Hayden Mullins, even if they were cost-constraint signings have been very lacklusture. Some players need to find form.

All in all, Clark deserves the chance everyone else got. It isn’t Lee Clark’s fault we’ve sold our best players, it isn’t Lee Clark’s fault that some players who he may not of wanted are on big money at Blues. He has had no real chance to shape the squad; all he can do is firefight. I just don’t see why people are blasting him; he has taken a job no-one else really wanted, I just hope he is given time to prove himself.



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11 Comments on In defence of Lee Clark

  1. Good article. It’s about time we had some perspective on the manager and the season so far. Clark is a passionate man and is desperate to do well but he is being let down by the majority of the players. We can’t judge him too harshly yet but he does need to turn things around quickly.
    In my view injuries have played a massive part and that has mean’t we have been unable to field a settled side. Clark has made mistakes with selection and tactics but I for one am prepared to give him more time.
    The most important thing is that the club is sold and quickly. One final thought those fans calling for Clark to go will probably get heir wish their wish if we get new owners.

  2. You tell we have no game this week ..It’s be fair and supportive of Clark weekend.
    He is doing a reasonable job in hard times.. Crap !
    As for no one else wanted the job… what about all the deadwood who came with him.. they seemed pretty quick about picking up a wage cheque
    If we play as bad against Leicester …all gloves will be off again.

  3. Hi Bluenoses! I have traveled over the North Sea from Norway and watch the first home game v Charlton A and v Hudderersfield at St Andrews. And I watch Blues on telly v Coventry and Barnsley. (I listen to radio when not its on telly) In its several elements I miss dearly! I did get a hell of a respect off Chris Hughton, I miss him a lot, and Iam not alone. But he is gone!! In come a young manager as Lee Clark. And I now anyone in the group of players/manager group will never say anything about the atmosphere in the BCFC group to us supporters, but iam sure something is wrong, and its about respect and communication player/player/trainer/manager. I am sure Lee Clarke is not the man who will help us in the future! That said, We must stand back the team in this diffucult periode, and hope for a better world with new owners who have passion for BCFC and fresh money!

  4. Sorry, but I couldn’t disagree more. Clark has been allowed to sign players on very good wages. Mullins, Lovenkrands, and Ambrose will all be earning at least 15k a week, to match deals at their previous clubs. I’m sure plenty of managers wouldn’t mind working under those kind of “constraints”. Clark’s already brought in 11 players, and only one of them might be considered any good (for the one and a bit games he played). He’s not working under any worse conditions than Hughton was. He’s certainly not working under worse conditions than Freedman at Palace, Warnock at Leeds, or Hill at Barnsley, and we all know what happened against them.
    Also, re: the “fans who complain are like Villa fans’ argument; Villa are currently putting up with being bottom six without a whimper. Let’s be fair – had Villa gone down in 2011, and we’d stayed up and brought in Houllier as our new manager, would there have been joy unconfined at St Andrews? I think not. It’s a bit silly really – what are we saying, only Villa fans care enough about their club to see a problem and want it resolved? I don’t think that’s the case at all, thankfully. Fans who have seen Blues play under Clark and don’t like what they are seeing have every right to make their feelings known.

  5. I think the point being missed here is that tactically Clark is inept. I do know for a fact that the players “are not sure about him”, which unofficially means he hasn’t got the changing room. Clearly I can’t and won’t elaborate more on that! The reports from the disreputable Star have some truth. There seems to be unhappiness about how things are being conducted and that shows in the laissez – faire approach from players. We can only pray for a Gold or a Sullivan (yes thats right), someone who runs the club as a business and not as a football club in the traditional sense. Training should be concentrated on the youth and a no nonsense Manager who actually has a PLAN of style and tactics to be used is required.

  6. Think yourself lucky, because if he did have a budget you’d really see some dross !! At least he cant waste any money. P.S Lee, why dont you come in for Oscar Gobern who you once said was a premiership player ? One of the worst players ever to pull on the HTFC shirt. Type in Oscar Gobern kung fu kick on you tube and you’ll see the type of player he pissed away millions on.

  7. Ultimately the manager has to carry the can for the team selection and performances. Im not saying Lee Clark should stay or go but iv been to every home game and one away, Coventry, in the cup and to say Blues have been dross is an understatement. Its been absoloutely awful to watch. None of us can say any different and im afraid you have to look at the manager.

  8. Clark is a worse manager than TF or Bruce though, worse than McLeish. He looks too emotional and changes tactics 3/4 times during a single game.
    Mullins – rubbish
    lovernkrands/Morrison – never plays them
    Ambrose – pathetic

    Caddis looked ok to be fair.

    1 up front against a newly promoted team at home, he is a league one manager so at least if he stays he will ok next year!

  9. We will not get a new manager until we get a new board. So in the meantime,we must support the team and the manager,otherwise when the new board comes in and appoints its own manager,it might be too late,to stave off relegation. Getting at the manager and the team will destroy their confidence completely, so we need to help them and give them all the confidence we can ! KRO

  10. Completely disagree – you can tell just from his TV interviews he’s WAY out of his depth. Players and fans know it. He has to go.

  11. Yes we have severe financial restrictions, but apart from Mutch (sold for a good amount) & Myhill, who was on loan, Lee Clark has all the players CH had plus the TEN players he has brought in. To compare his job with Hughton’s job last season seems a fair one; unfortunately the respective abilities are not comparable. The TEN are Lucas, Caddis, Robinson, the left-back from Chelsea, Morrison, Ambrose, Mullins, Papa Bouba Diop, Lita & Lovenkrands; there may be more but I don’t think so.

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