March 9 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Arguably, it was Lee Clark’s departure from Norwich City three years ago next month that sealed the fate of his then boss, Glenn Roeder.
• While City’s performance against Arsenal felt disappointing, with a bit of reflection it was far from all bad. As ever, the key is bouncing back come QPR’s visit on Saturday. Simply a don’t-lose game.
• Still on QPR, Joey Barton will miss out on Saturday after picking up five yellows – already. He may be missed too: against Stoke, the Rs skipper gave away the ball for Stoke’s opener and should have conceded two penalties…
• André Villas-Boas wasn’t really getting the chance to show his arrogant side due to Chelsea’s poor form – so it was good to see him proclaim his safety in the job, despite successive defeats. I’m sure Roman was happy too.
• So before Saturday, Marc Tierney had delivered more crosses than any other top-flight full-back this season; but I don’t think he got to add to his tally against Arsenal.
• I hope there will be no letting-up on Sepp Blatter. Out of touch and out of time, he needs to go. Now.
While the former Newcastle United and Sunderland midfielder was assistant manager at Colney, the signs of life around the club were healthy enough.
Clark clearly had the respect of the players; the jokes were even shared in public, with him once laughing about the benefits of ordering pizza over an ear-piece – and not in any way getting around one of Roeder’s touchline bans.
As balanced as things were in Clark’s time, it is fair to say the atmosphere was never the same after he left.
And neither was Roeder, who either protected his assistant’s first step into management – one Roeder openly predicted – or he was genuinely first told of Clark’s likely appointment at Huddersfield by the media.
Clark is small in stature but not in presence, and that is helping him make a big impression at the Terriers and beyond.
On Saturday, the 39-year-old’s side beat Notts County 2-1 at the Galpharm Stadium, which made it a staggering 43 Football League games unbeaten. Only Arsenal – 49 Premier League games up to 2003 – can argue better in English professional football.
There are caveats, mind. Town’s run does not include last season’s League One play-off final – meaning they actually lost the most important game they’ve played in the last 12 months.
I’m sure Peterborough United remain grateful for that. Somehow Huddersfield have managed not led League One during their run either.
No matter. It is still a fantastic achievement – and due reward.
Clark has been backed, but he has also had to manage his squad. Several of his top performers have been sold for big money – something Norwich fans can vouch for, given Anthony Pilkington’s arrival and form.
It may be Clark will need to do so again in January, when a few vultures from the divisions above will circle 21-year-old leading scorer Jordan Rhodes. I wonder if City fans would like to vouch for that one too?
But on past form, Clark will be able to cope with that too.
He is making his way in management and doing a good job with it: open, honest and once again, earning the respect of the players he works with.
He knows how to play the game as well. Taking in Saturday’s Football League show and seeing his pre and post-match interviews – and then opening up the home dressing room for the cameras – it said a lot.
Clark turned down a move to Leicester this month. The job he has done should see him among short-listed names for a top-flight chance; that is, when one finally becomes available. It has been a bizarre season for the sack race – not since the 1990s has every top-flight manager survived into December; only a week to go.
When a job does come along, wherever it may be, expect Lee Clark to be on the short list.
Whether he would want to leave Huddersfield is another matter.