Clark faces old pal Coleman
Chris Lakey Lee Clark faces old pal Chris Coleman on the Coventry touchline Saturday afternoon - but he could well have been in the Sky Blues dugout plotting Norwich City's downfall.
Lee Clark faces old pal Chris Coleman on the Coventry touchline Saturday afternoon - but he could well have been in the Sky Blues dugout plotting Norwich City's downfall.
The Canaries assistant manager was approached by Coleman last summer when the former Fulham boss took on the challenge of turning around the fortunes of Spanish side Real Sociedad.
It was an opportunity that didn't tie in with Clark's career plans: instead, he chose to join Glenn Roeder at Carrow Road.
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“There was a little bit of conversation while I was still at Newcastle to say would I like to go and join him and Steve out there, but that wasn't something that I wanted to do at that stage of my career,” admitted Clark, who served under Coleman at Craven Cottage.
“I was his captain for two years and played alongside him before that. I've got a good relationship with him in terms of friendship and a lot of respect and I think he has turned out to be one of the best young managers in the country and, unfortunately for my old club at Fulham, they are probably regretting the day they let him go.”
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Clark believes his old boss has Premiership qualities - and should still be managing there.
“I would have thought so, but I knew what Chris' ambitions were and he wanted to go and work abroad and he proved very successful there,” said Clark. “He only left on his terms because of various reasons with the owner or president there. He did a terrific job there and picked up a lot of experience so him and his assistant manager, Steve Kean, are two guys who I have got a lot of respect for.
“I'm looking forward to seeing him tomorrow and putting one over them. Even when we played together during the training sessions we were very competitive against each other but afterwards our friendship was there for all to see and that will be the same tomorrow. For 90 minutes we will both be determined to put one over on each other and then we will have a cup of tea afterwards.”
Clark's knowledge of Coleman's methods means he has a decent idea of what to expect this afternoon from the Sky Blues.
“They'll be very competitive,” he said. “I know what he expects from his team, I know what he expects from individuals. He has gone in there and he's made an impact already in the four games he's been in charge.
“We had the game covered on Wednesday and they should have taken all three points off QPR, so we know it's going to be tough. He will have a motivated bunch of players because that's what he does and they'll play to a certain system and we have got to try and combat that.”
Coleman won his opening game, but then lost two before the midweek stalemate against QPR and finds himself in a struggle to keep the Sky Blues away from the Championship trap-door - a position Clark knows only too well.
“I spoke to him on numerous occasions just after he got the job and obviously their scenario is to get as many points as possible to try and give the impact that Glenn had when he came in here in terms of the team picking up positive results,” he said.
“They have obviously got a lot more than we had and are closer to the rest of the group than we were when we first arrived so they've got a chance. I think he has been pleasantly pleased with the way the first four games have gone overall. I have seen his comments after they played Scunthorpe and I think he was disappointed with that, but I think overall he has been pleased with how the players have responded to them.”
Coleman will be hoping for the sort of turnaround that the change of management at Carrow Road signalled, although Clark says the credit should go to the players.
“We're happy with the way things are going, but we haven't achieved anything yet,” he said. “We've started something that we want to carry on building, but most of the credit has to go to the players. We have given them something we want them to work to, in terms of a structure and what we want from them and what we expect in terms of the standards and they've gone out and delivered on most occasions in getting the results.
“I enjoy coming in every day. The group of players we work with want to learn, they want to try and do the things that we're asking them to do and picking up new things every day and we've been delighted with the response from the players.”