Lee Clark. Stick or twist?

14

April 28, 2013 by Made In Brum

 

I‘m writing this because I want to be fair. The last time I put the finger to keyboard was after the spiritless capitulation against Watford and, to be frank, all I could foresee was more gloom, more ineptitude, more frustration and the definite prospect of relegation. Now, here we are, lounging on the sunny uplands of mid-table mediocrity and on the back of some performances that have been…..wait for it…..enjoyable. Let’s gloss over the fact that after one of the most pleasurable and compelling evenings in recent memory at Selhurst Park, Lee Clark decided to change a convincing line up within a matter of a few hours against the dingles and that the game was lost before we got going. The bald facts are that, like plenty of other people, I would have driven Clark to his next job and made sandwiches and a flask for the journey and now……..well, what?

The witnesses for the prosecution, including me, have had plenty of time and opportunity to ventilate our mixture of anger and disappointment with Clark and his incompetence, whether that be in terms of team selection, motivation, choice of managerial colleagues and, of course, those excruciating press comments and conferences. I’ve lost count of the number of people who, like me, keep going to support the Blues because it’s an ingrained habit and not to do so seems like an act of betrayal and an abandonment of life-long principles. A decent day out spoilt only by having to watch the Blues. Yes, it’s true, we were completely unwatchable under The Scottish Manager but at least there seemed a wider purpose, particularly in this division. For much of this season we seem to have drifted from one formless performance to another with our fingers crossed in the hope that something might turn up to improve matters. Like I say, there’s no shortage of opinion (evidence even) to support this view.

So, what about a case for the defence? And if there is such a case, does it mean we stick with him for another season?

First of all, we can’t dismiss the off-field shenanigans. Like most of us, I’m not qualified to make a sensible assessment of what sort of impact this has on the playing side at a football club. At the very least, however, I can say with confidence that it won’t have been helpful. I’m always suspicious of the argument that starts, ‘Well, if that happened in my place of work…..’ because such comparisons are usually pretty pointless. For one thing, very few of us factor in the possibility of having our parentage and sexual preferences speculated upon in public by tens of thousands of people on a regular basis (well, except on the worst of days). Nor can most of us contemplate comfortable retirement by our mid 30s. Quite simply, we have our suspicions about what happens at football clubs but we don’t know for certain. All the same, it’s difficult to contemplate that these are circumstances in which any professional could function effectively and happily.

Secondly, he got there in the end. Possibly. Whether he stumbled upon a combination that works; whether he eventually thought it out for himself; whether the Chuckle Brothers gave him some useful advice – which, given their usual match-day practice of hunching in a frightened and bewildered slump in the dug-out seems unlikely – again, we’ll never know. But, by resorting to the simple expedient of playing his best players in their best positions in an effective format, he seems to have got there. He’s also, whether through force of circumstance or not, played young players some of whom, almost unbelievably in this day and age, come from Birmingham and seem to have some genuine connection with the club – and this same connection seems to manifest itself in their performances. Luck or judgement? We’ll never know – but, at the moment, it appears to be working.

And thirdly, what – or who – are the alternatives? Realistically? Like all of us, I’m fully aware of the managerial merry-go-round that sees the Jewels, Joneses, Warnocks, Graysons and O’Driscolls come and go at the whim of deluded chairmen and boards. These, and their like, are all solid, knowledgeable and occasionally effective professionals and I’m sure they would do a decent job for us. But no-one in their right mind could get over-excited by such choices, and the record of all such managers is mixed at best – and, yes, I know that very often that’s down to the impatience and ignorance of various chairmen. But it just may be that Clark will up his game and join the ranks of these solid middle achievers – especially if circumstances change at the club, which, of course, no one of can be certain will happen. For one thing, I’m not so sure we’re the appealing prospect for prospective owners and some of these managers that some fans think we may be.

All of the above sounds as if I’m batting for him and that a few decent performances have brought on a kind of cheery amnesia. That’s not the case. On balance, I think he’s been a pretty disastrous manager so far and has made a barrel load of mistakes. And if we do keep him on, I may be writing again by the turn of the year and questioning what may have turned out to be the onset of my own lack of judgement that comes with ageing. If someone comes along and buys us, installs a manager with proven experience or obvious potential ( and don’t forget that we thought Clark had some of the latter) and if we offload Zigic for more than a bag of Revels and his train fare home, then things may look different. In all honesty, I don’t see many of those things happening. But then I didn’t think Lee Clark knew how to pick a side, set it up to win important games and, from time to time, even play some attractive football. So, prove us wrong, Lee: we’d love it.

Jon Berry

 

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14 thoughts on “Lee Clark. Stick or twist?

  1. Bishop says:

    “So, what about a case for the defence?” – Yes, we need one! Clark needs to rebuild the spine of the team. A bit old fashioned maybe in the so called modern era but it needs to be done before the team can develop and progress. No doubt all will be come clearer once he starts bringing in his signings.

  2. graingersrocket says:

    Most could see that Caldwell was a liability at the back, would have Lee Clark changed him with Robbo (a revelation at C/H) if Caldwell had not got injured, which in turn lead to Mitch Hancox getting an extended run, If he Keith Fahey had not gone back to Ireland for whatever reason would have Mr Clark played Ravel Morrison another revelation since xmas. So for me things have happened more by accident than good management and planning, but i suppose that stand’s for many managers

  3. dave says:

    for me he deserves a go he took us on when noone else wanted to and in the end did ok with nothing. i think the guy deserves his chance to see what he can do and hopefully we can get new owners that can back him with a few quid as well

  4. Dave says:

    LC has done ok considering. Hopefully with new owners, LC can put his own stamp on the squad next season and bring in some experienced but also some young quality. With 19 out of contract and I wonder who he’d keep I would hope he signs: 2 goalkeepers, Caddis, a quality late 20’s centre half, a young up and coming lg1/2 played 100 games centre half, give Burke a contract, Ferguson on loan, a fit Fahey, ball winning CM NDaw on loan? 2 good strikers not Wes Thomas.

  5. tony says:

    This season has been pretty dire in the main.Far to many games where we looked clueless and clark didn’t seem to have any idea how to rectify it.As the season progressed we have had some good performances in patches but very rarely for ninety minutes .Given that all the off field goings on will mask clarks failures then i expect him to be there in august.Personally i hope the consultant and the hairdresser are gone and if clark follows them then i won’t miss him.

  6. Tara says:

    Very fair article and a good honest read. We need to kept blooding the kids and see what sticks. Unfortunately these were mostly Westley’s signings and we don’t have that pipeline anymore so unless CY can influence the judges decision and then find a new asian Westley replacement (stick to what you know) then we might have another bumpy year ride. So be it this is Blues and really would we want it any other way? Mid table almost threatening to deceive a play place in the play-offs with a boat load of kids? 让它骑

  7. Nicholas says:

    They was not westley’s signings!!! Hancox etc where there before he arrived.
    This season started with too many errors from the reiable players from last season, then with injuries to vital positions we lost away a bit. Then with to many people with negative thoughts our home foem went down hill, so we lost too many points at home, being a away follower we played good football away and picked up points.Conclusion If we got behind manager and team at home… If Murphy, Carr, Fahey, Burke. King and had a Left Midfielder, experience goalkeeper we wpould have reach the play off’s, Any Thoughts!!!!!!

    • Made In Brum says:

      Yes you just said the season started with too many errors , Then state if those players who started the season were in the team now we would be in play-offs. Don’t get that theory we have played better since the kids came in to replace those.
      For me here lies the problem first half form for some reason we just cant perform from the off surely that is down to management. Our First half form has us 3 from bottom with goal difference of -19 sorry but WOW

      • Nicholas says:

        Well i did not want to name names but davies was very poor at the start of the season and the kids like Redmond, Butland also made mistakes to give goals away. Burke and Caldwell form was poor aswell. so your -19 comes from Butland and Davies making errors with aid of Caldwell. If you went to Sheff wed away Butland and Davies gave away two goals that day. I could go on with the other games.The form of your kids is when davies became player of the season and had a more settled side. In my opinion season if fit!!!! Gk Butland RB Caddis CB Davies CB Robinson LB Murphy RM Burke CM Fahey CM Morison LM Ferguson AM Redmond ST King Hopefully my players get fit if they stay. if we go with your kids the its the championship forever

  8. chris says:

    Before Christmas I wanted him gone, but seeing the improvement after new year, I think it would be fair to give him next season and see what he can do

  9. Blooflame says:

    Great piece mate. In the course of my job I’ve visited a number of blues players houses over the years. Last year in discussion one wife intimated that she loved the club as the families were close but they weren’t sure about the manager. I take that as a polite way of saying they have no confidence in him… and it shows. Love to see Mark Hughes in

    • BCB says:

      You’re the 50th person that’s claimed to have worked at a players house. They must be having some major refurb!!!

      I dare say the players that “Are not sure about the Manager” are the players not being selected.

  10. greg says:

    in fairness to Clark the first thing a new manager does when he comes in to a club is rebuild it to suit his style of football, Clark has been shunted off with cheap loanies and free transfers, what he could do with a decent budget is unknown but the potential is there. Even Hughton said that the job was ‘untennable’ after his first season so for clark to finish us off in the top half of the table after what is fair to say a shit start is positive. You must also consider the wide amount of injuries hes had to deal with. At one game i counted off how many of the players on the back of the program where actually fit and it was just under half so to have to deal with most of the first team missing with a lack of experienced players as back up was never going to end well, but hes strung some wins together and slowly moved us up the table. I say he should be given one more season because lets be honest it cant end up any worse than the Ginger Twat

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