Birmingham City: A Huddersfield Fan On What To Expect From Lee Clark
When Lee Clark left Huddersfield Town in February after suffering only 3 defeats in around 50 games, the football world was suitably shocked. Everybody wanted to suggest that the Terriers had made a grave error in sacking an up-and-coming young manager.
It was a sacking met with overwhelming bewilderment by most outside the club, but to many fans of Huddersfield, this was not a complete surprise. On paper, Lee Clark looks like a terrific manager, but there are problems and although he is a manager of great potential; he still has a lot to learn.
When he arrived at Huddersfield Town he promised an attacking brand of football, built on the knowledge he learned playing under managers like Jean Tigana and, perhaps more worryingly, Kevin Keegan.
And this is certainly what he delivered initially, with his first full season in charge delivering an attacking side who scored around 100 goals and played with real pace and flair.
The Keegan influence can also be seen within his backroom team, which is made up of formerNewcastle stalwarts. If Birmingham are really lucky then Terry McDermott might join Clark and he can use up all your tea bags, sit about telling jokes and occasionally he might put out some cones.
However the attacking football was halted when his team of youngsters were convincingly beaten by a powerful Millwall side. And here comes the first chink in Clark’s armour, namely: he overreacts to defeats.
If Birmingham are really lucky then Terry McDermott might join Clark and he can use up all your tea bags, sit about telling jokes and occasionally he might put out some cones.
When we were beaten by Millwall,Clark began to dismantle his quick attacking side and started to build a physical team who were more pragmatic. This got Huddersfield to a play off final, but it took away some excitement and certainly eliminated an attacking edge we had previously had over our opponents.
He threw away his principles and this happened in every preseason. Now, preseason is where you see the true qualities and the flaws of Lee Clark. He can pick a player: as the signings of Jordan Rhodes, Anthony Pilkington & Lee Peltier can attest. However he throws a lot of mud at the wall in the hope that some of it eventually sticks: as the signings of Robbie Simpson, Alan Lee and Lionel Ainsworth also prove.
He built an entirely new team in every season at Huddersfield, and although there were many good signings in that time, many were bought in without a clear plan.
A number of players were given little chance to settle in, before being loaned out or sold entirely. Players like Donal McDermott arrived to much fanfare, but was swiftly allowed to join Bournemouth six months later.
In his three years at Huddersfield Clark signed many players, and was afforded a large budget. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the financial restrictions at Birmingham. For what it’s worth, I think this will benefit Clark, whose eyes became bigger than his stomach when it came to picking players.
It must be said, that despite his propensity to sign players and alter his style wildly after defeats, he was certainly very good at getting results. It would be utterly pointless denying that his record at Huddersfield was anything less than impressive.
As much as the unbeaten run was questioned greatly,Huddersfield only lost twice in around 40 games, which is exceptionally impressive.
He can pick a player: as the signings of Jordan Rhodes, Anthony Pilkington & Lee Peltier can attest. However he throws a lot of mud at the wall in the hope that some of it eventually sticks
This was however not a team who swept aside teams with ease, we were simply a solid side who showed battling qualities to make sure we gained results at all costs.
He is a manager who knows how to get his teams to earn results, and his use of prozone explains what became an increasingly pragmatic approach at Huddersfield.
He is still learning and as a young manager his natural enthusiasm will delight and frustrate in equal measure. He’ll speak very passionately and will buy fully into the ethos of the club, but he will also get tetchy with the media and has on occasion criticised players publicly.
Ultimately,Birmingham is a very different challenge for him, and I will look on with interest to see how he gets on, and will happily welcome him back to Huddersfieldwhen he visits the Galpharm this year.
Above everything, he made Huddersfield a competitive side that for a while were thrilling to watch. He was sacked due to a perceived inability to get us over the finish line, but never shamed himself.
His sacking at Huddersfield probably enhanced his reputation, as it brought his record to the nation’s consciousness and highlighted his credentials. If he had resided over another failed promotion campaign and then, in all likelihood, he would not be as highly rated as he is.
I personally wish Lee Clark all the very best and I do hope he can continue the excellent work done by Chris Hughton. In Lee Clark, you get a lot a manager with great potential, and credentials that the media are impressed by; it is the failings that are a little less discussed. Although his time at Huddersfield answered a number of questions, there are many things yet to be discovered about the type of manager he truly is. His spell at Birmingham will probably determine whether he ends up a Premier League manager or a future boss of Northampton Town.
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