Clark salutes 'fantastic' effort

DAVID CUFFLEY Lee Clark today spoke of the “defining moment” when Norwich City's new management team realised the size of the task facing them - and of how they set about putting things right.


Lee Clark today spoke of the “defining moment” when Norwich City's new management team realised the size of the task facing them - and of how they set about putting things right.

The Canaries' assistant manager said last month's 3-0 defeat at Plymouth had made changes inevitable in the squad and on the training ground.

And Clark paid tribute to the “fantastic” attitude shown by the players in winning four matches out of five since that nightmare afternoon at Home Park, to move out of the bottom three in the Coca-Cola Championship.

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When Glenn Roeder became City manager, six weeks ago today, he wasted little time in bringing in his former Newcastle reserve team boss as his number two.

Clark, 35, said: “When I first came down I realised the set-up was Premier League standard. But we had to get the team believing in themselves and playing with more confidence.

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“We looked at the squad and we knew we had good players but they were lacking a bit of confidence. They needed to start winning matches.

“In the first week we were analysing the playing side. Against Ipswich we got what we expected with it being a local derby and the players looking to put on a good show. I think they deserved three points and should never have been 2-0 down.

“Against Watford we knew we would be under the cosh at times, but for the majority of the game we matched them.

“The defining point was the game at Plymouth, which basically told us a lot of the answers to the questions we were asking.

“It pointed us in the right direction. Luckily enough, we had a two-week break in which to address certain things that were going on, either on the training pitch or through the loan market.

“We also had one or two injured players coming back, which was a boost to the squad.”

Clark said Roeder's four loan signings - defenders Martin Taylor and Mo Camara, midfielder Matty Pattison and striker Ched Evans - had been spot on.

He said: “We concentrated on players we knew a bit about and we couldn't make mistakes because time was running out. We had to get on some sort of winning run.

“There were good players here already, but lacking confidence. Glenn chose his signings to perfection because he couldn't afford to make any mistakes.

“Each and every one of them has done well. They all want to play football. Faced with the offers to come here and play in the first place, when they were asked if they wanted to come and play for Norwich City, they all said yes straightaway.

“That's what you're looking for because if anyone says he needs time to think about it, it means he is not 100 per cent committed to what you're trying to do.”

Paul Stephenson's arrival from Hartlepool as first team coach completed the new managerial line-up.

“The three of us are bubbly characters,” said Clark. “We want the lads to express themselves but also show commitment and passion. Mix them both together and we're a lot nearer to where we want to be.

“The players took that on board and have worked to the maximum in training, which we always expect them to do, and the performances and the results in the games since then have been a big improvement, even at Stoke, where we deserved something out of the game.

“Certainly the lads have done very, very well and have shown a fantastic attitude.”

Former Fulham midfielder Clark rejected the idea that he was the “hard man” of the threesome.

“Not really. I've never been slow to tell someone what I think - you're not doing the job properly if you don't - but I always try to pick out the positive things and encourage people,” he said.

“We bounce ideas off each other. The final decision is with the manager but he knows that if he asks our opinion he will get an honest answer. He doesn't want to be surrounded by yes men, but by people who speak the truth and give their opinions.

“We are all working towards the same end and trying to do our best for each other and the club, to keep Norwich City in the Championship and, further down the line, get back into the Premiership.”

City's next two matches are basement battles at Colchester and Scunthorpe - two sides currently struggling for points.

“We'll go into the next two games with a lot of confidence but respecting our opponents,” said Clark.

“The fact that they are teams around us means they are huge games and if we win we can put a bit of distance between us and them in the table.

“We're on a good run. There is lots of confidence, the work rate is very high and we have a good chance of getting more results like this if we show that same desire and determination.”

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