Keep Clark or Having a Lark?

One person to polarise the Bues fans more than Nikola Zigic of late, is the manager, Lee Clark.

Kev posted a blog on here called, After Survival, What Now for the Club? For what it’s worth, I think he’s right.  The club does need a change of ownership, and the sooner the better!  That being said, as Kev asserted, we DO owe our best Premier League finish and Carling Cup triumph to them.  Sullivan and the Golds COULD have gained those things for us, but if they truly believed that, they wouldn’t have sold up when they did.

What he didn’t deal with in his article, that I intend to address here, is the future of the manager.  Sure, it could all be academic.  A new owner, be it a born and bred Bluenose, an Australian opportunist or even another Chinese consortium, would be likely (though not guaranteed) to want their ‘own man’ in charge.  Clark himself may well see it coming, as in interviews he’s said things like, “It’s not the manager in charge who matters, if they’re given the same parameters as myself to deal with, they will struggle.”

Some fans want him out, plain and simple.  With our attrocious home form, this term, and our 93rd minute escape from relegation, who would blame them?

Some fans want him to stay, they’ve known since the season started that we’d find it hard keeping our place in the Championship, with Yeung’s trial hanging over our heads.  For what it’s worth, I’m in that camp, he’s overseen hugely troubling scenes, and far from whinging and moaning, he’s gotten on with the job in hand, with quiet dignity.  A ‘better’ manager may well have walked, within said ‘parameters’.  Not sure?  Check this article…

Everyone agrees he’s a good manager.  Would he have walked?

Some fans just seem content to pray for new owners, hoping it’s resolved one way or another before we bother with a new manager.  Herein lies the problem, with the huge building task ahead, it seems likely any manager would struggle to identify player targets, convince them to come in, and build the team around them.  Lee Clark – for all his flaws – has the basics in place already.  He knows the facilities, the minimal squad we have remaining.  With the sale of the club seemingly no closer than it was at the Reebok kick off, getting a new manager in now would seem futile.  Who in their right mind would take it?  And the longer the debacle of the ‘sale’ goes on, the more likely it is that any new manager was in post too late for pre-season!

I am sure some folks reading this article will bemoan our home form and some admittedly questionable tactics, and think I’m ‘off my head’ to suggest we should ‘stand by our man’, but I really feel it’s the case.  Our last Joys and Sorrows poll asked the question, Is Lee Clark the right man, the wrong man or the only man?  46% said they felt he was the right man AT THIS TIME, 33% said he was the ONLY man we could afford/attract to the club.  League One football would surely have made this MORE likely, but the poll was instigated before relegation was even an issue for most fans.  Only 21% of fans felt he was the wrong man for Birmingham City.  Perhaps a brand new poll, starting now, would reveal diminished support for him, but the fact is, an unknown syndicate may not be able to convince ANY new manager that their vision for the club is a good one, with enough financial backing.  The current owners certainly won’t.  There’s so much speculation that our future will imminently be decided, but one thing we’ve learned about Peter Pannu, Carson Yeung and BIHL, is that nothing is decided in haste.  We must be patient, and if that means backing Lee Clark while he silently rebuilds our squad with the ability to find players like Paul Caddis, and bring in loan signings like Jordan Ibe and Federico Macheda, I say so be it.

In what was a shocking season, most would agree (even if they debate the cause), here are some of the highlights that I feel warrant a stay of execution, so to speak 🙂

We beat relegated Yeovil away, and knocked them (and Prem Swansea!) out of the CO Cup. I’ll accept the 2-0 home defeat wasn’t amazing :lol
We did the double over Millwall who were lucky not to go down too.
Derby finished third, we held them at home AND away from home.
We ALMOST knocked Prem Stoke out of the CO Cup.
Drew at home with Blackpool and beat them away; they were also lucky not to go down.
We hammered relegated Barnsley away and drew 1-1 at home, so they deserved to be below us
We drew at home to relegated Doncaster. If they couldn’t beat us at home, they deserved to go down ;) We also beat them at their place.
We held top half finishers Boro at home, and beat 10th finishers Bournemouth away, 2-0
Eleventh placed Forest (heavily invested team) we held 0-0 at home.
We held fifth placed finishers Wigan 0-0 away
We beat 8th placed Blackburn 3-2, away after going 3-0 up before half time.
We played really well (nobody would argue with this) against Prem Swansea in the FA Cup (at home too!!)
We beat Charlton away – they were lucky not to be in the relegation mix these past couple of weeks.
We held second placed Burnley 3-3 at home.

All in all, it wasn’t a great season and Clark will admit he made mistakes, but our results against the eventually relegated clubs proves we deserved to finish above them, so it wasn’t sheer luck that Clark kept us in the division. 4 points taken from the top five clubs wasn’t to be sniffed at considering our lowly position at the season end either. I think some of our negative performances and results have hugely overshadowed some positive achievements, in the circumstances….

At present, the players under contract for next season are Tom Adeyemi, Koby Arthur, Reece Brown, Paul Caddis, Colin Doyle, Neal Eardley, Demarai Gray, Matt Green, Mitchell Hancox, Lee Novak, Darren Randolph, Callum Reilly, Andrew Shinnie, Liam Truslove and Jonathan Spector.

With some quality additions from the Bosman market, I reckon it’s the nucleus of a good Championship side.  Our manager needs to be able to add quality where needed though…not dictated by the latest trial date or lack of funds.  Maybe I’ll leave the last words on this for now to Emyr Huws, and then leave it to you, gentle reader, to leave your own vitrol of friendly agreement in the comments box below 🙂

From: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/birmingham-city-made-better-player-7087479

“the rising Wales star predicted that Lee Clark’s side could mount a Championship promotion bid, if Blues finances get sorted out.”

“I appreciate everything the manager has done for me,” he said.  A loan signing does owe the manager, that’s for sure, but considering the stick Robbo and Clark got for saying what they said about SOME loan signings, it appears it certainly didn’t phase Huws.

Keep Right On

Russ

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9 Comments on Keep Clark or Having a Lark?

  1. Lee Clark should stay yes. Not once have I heard a player say anything negative about him. The likes of Ravel and Huws have nothing but good to say about his management. Yes we have quizzed his team selections on numerous occasions but most supporters of various clubs quiz the managers selections. At Bolton it was spot on, moving Caddis from his natural position to a more advanced role paid dividends, did it not? Clark has had to manage a club with his hands and legs tied behind his back and what draws me to him is his desire to succeed at Birmingham and I believe he will if given the tools by a new owner to do his job properly. Only Steven Pressley at Coventry has a thankless job like Clark and they only just managed to avoid relegation from League One. At the end of the day most Birmingham supporters agreed that it will be an achievement if Clark keeps the club in the Championship this season and he achieved that. Now its time for new owners to give him the scope to build a squad that can eventually take Birmingham back into the Premiership.

  2. Agree that Lee Clark should stay. We need to back our manager with some verbal support and, hopefully, some new owner’s money. He’s done a pretty amazing job with variable support from the fans and NO support from the current owners. However it appears that he does have the support of the most important piece of the jigsaw -that of the players. All have resolutely stood by him and said what a wonderful job he’s done either for them personally or as a team. Let’s have a bit of stability, don’t get our expectations too high (those saying we’ll push for promotion after this season may be a little premature) and yes, take a risk that he MIGHT not be the man for the job with a better team but unless we let him try we’ll never find out.
    I sit behind him, in the main stand, and if he could kick, head or punch every ball he would – he’s 100% Blue (at the moment). I think we should use that to our advantage – he’s clearly not hear for the cushy number is he.

  3. I can’t believe what I am reading! He has broken the record for any team outside of the Premier League, for the worst home record in history. He couldn’t motivate his team to get the required 3 points with 5 games to go ( admittedly 3 were at home). As for players not having a bad word to say about him….. Zigic fell out with him, Scott Alan fell out with him and Jake Jervis, well I think if you ask him he may tell you different. I cannot believe that you think that he should be given more time, he made so many mistakes this year and that is what caused us to almost crash out of the championship. Blackburn at home is the most notable failure in his ability……. Left back at centre Half, Central midfielder at Left back. Right back in midfield midfielder at Right back.

    I don’t think he had the passion until it was do or die at Bolton. As he bores me to death with his defence of the players waffle that he gives at the end of pretty much every game. I do not deny that he cares or can find the odd diamond in the rough but that does not make him anything more than an average scout not the manager of my beloved football team that I travel 270 miles per home game to watch from my home in Sussex.

    Lee Clark could not pick his nose let alone a football team and I don’t think that we could beat an egg at home with some of the tactics that he has used in the last 12 months. Saying that I don’t know who we would get to replace him, but I would consider the likes of Rowett and Yates as I truly don’t think it could be any worst than what Clark has offered this year.

  4. That list of our ‘highlights’ from last year actually make me laugh out loud!

  5. Having been a Blues supporter for 40 odd years,I have see many managers come and go, but Clark not for us, two seasons and getting worse in player management. New owners Yes but when will it happen ?. Changed coaches and that made no different, that said it all.

  6. I too am for keeping Clark. It is all too easy to forget what happened at the New Year, just as we seem to have a reasonably settled central defence, two key players, Bartlett and Burns are recalled by their parent clubs (and a lot of good it did them!). And what about Jesse Lingard? In spite of all this, Clark was able to secure a player of Macheda’s quality. the acquisition of Hews on loan also indicates that he must have the respect of some pretty heavy weight managers. Give him a chance I say, with decent owners and a bit of cash, who knows what might happen? It’s not as if there is a wealth of talent out there to replace him.

  7. Jedda- you laughed out loud at the thought that being better than the bottom three proved we shouldn’t have been relegated? Most Blues fans agreed at the start of the season that the target must be survival. You laughed out loud at our performances against Premier League Stoke and Swansea in the cup competitions? Stoke who beat Villa 4-1 at Villa Park? Or Swansea who beat Villa 4-1 at their place? I didn’t say they were the ‘highlights’ of a good season, but I think it’s fair to say it’s a fact that those WERE our highlights, laugh as much as you like!

    Paul – getting worse in player management is a matter of opinion. The players themselves certainly sound like they rate his management. Sadly, we couldn’t afford a higher calibre of players TO manage. If the changing of coaches didn’t make a difference, then getting rid of McDermott and Fazackerley was the right move, as it saved money and things didn’t get worse. It’s funny, cos Clark was derided for playing Mullins, derided for letting him go to Notts County, and derided for bringing him back. SURELY one of those must have been the correct decision, yet Clark gets credit for none of it.

    Sussex – you’re rightly concerned about our home form, but if I posted a blog saying he was a tactical genius for our great away form this season, you’d quite rightly tap on my metaphorical shoulder, and say ‘hang on, what about the awful home form’. So, I say to you, ‘if he’s so bad, what about the amazing away form?’ I say he’s the best manager we can afford at this time, and he’s shown glimpses of good management, and (greater) glimpses of bad management, but neither ‘glimpse’ is the full picture. I happen to think he’s a flawed manager, no more, no less. Pinning our woes on him isn’t the solution. A fair scientific test would suggest you can only change one variable. Our variables included the recall of three significant full-season loanees, halfway through their season with us…Lingard, Bartley and Burn. Another variable would be the total lack of financial support. Another the abject atmosphere at home. If we can take the ‘credit’ for being the twelfth man at the Reebok, we surely need to accept we’re culpable in the dire atmosphere at St Andrews this season. Yes, we had our moments, but so did our team. 4-0 against Millwall at home. Who was our manager that day? Did Lee Clark take the reins of Millwall for the afternoon?? I’m not excusing certain performances, but we did play well and lose, and we did play well and win. We played well and drew some matches too. A poor manager wouldn’t have been able to inspire any of those good performances in my opinion. The players (Blackett, Howard, Shinnie, Lovenkrands, Rusnak for example) weren’t always good performers either. And Zigic himself took some flak from Clark didn’t he? I’m not saying Clark was blameless, but neither were the players. We had a ten match unbeaten run, that didn’t happen by mistake. Sure, neither did our failure to win at home for so long, but we’d had our defence ripped out. Some of the ‘tactical’ changes seem puzzling to most (me included) but when you have a limited squad, you have to try and stretch it as far as poss!! Perhaps he’ll agree he got it wrong, after all it DIDN’T work, did it, but we lost many games this season where I thought ‘an unchanged, balanced squad’ so leaving it the same, and playing players in ‘their’ position didn’t actually help.

    Andy and Phil. At least you guys seem rational in your praise of Clark, and you can help dispel the myth that some people seem to think ‘everyone’ wants Clark out. Amazing the amount of people who think they’re the ‘voice of the fans’. I acknowledge some want Clark out. I just happen to think he deserves the chance to prove himself with a budget. Otherwise, his appointment as our manager came with the proviso ‘Get us to the playoffs with no money, no support from above and a disillusioned fanbase, or we’ll just sack you.’ Would you want to offer any new manager the same terms? I doubt it, so why should we expect Clark to accept those terms when anyone can see (even if they think we’d be better if he walked/was sacked) that he HAS tried his heart out for us…

    Keep Right On (and thanks to you all for commenting!)

  8. We’ve got to do better than Clark. The bloke cares, he’s passionate and committed. Sadly, that’s not enough at this level though. I have serious misgivings about his tactical ability. Keep Clark and we’re down for sure!

  9. For all the reasons above, I think Clark could be a decent No.2, but left with the total responsibilty for on field decision, he is far short of the skill.

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