Clark says Canaries have Premier League potential
Lee Clark admits he fell victim to “the Norwich Effect”, just as so many before him have done.Only the driving ambition to become a manager in his own right has managed to drag Glenn Roeder's assistant away from Carrow Road just 13 months into his apprenticeship.
Lee Clark admits he fell victim to “the Norwich Effect”, just as so many before him have done.
Only the driving ambition to become a manager in his own right has managed to drag Glenn Roeder's assistant away from Carrow Road just 13 months into his apprenticeship.
It's a lot shorter stay than many other players and coaching staff have made it, but the opportunity to manage League One Huddersfield Town was too good to turn down - so don't ask Clark if he's deserting a sinking ship. It wasn't quite like that.
“I know I was very ambitious to be a manager, but I can assure everyone it wasn't an easy decision because of the people I was working with and the good club I was working for,” said Clark.
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Which is the reason Clark went out of his way at the weekend to say just how he felt about Norwich City, the staff and the supporters.
“I just want to say thank you to the supporters for making us feel welcome for the 13 months I was at the club and for making the family so welcome and helping us make the transition to move down from the north-east, which is always tough because we are all from there,” he said.
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“The kids absolutely loved it and the wife was really settled and I was working at a fantastic club for fantastic people - the directors, Delia and Michael, the chairman Roger and his wife, they are really top people.
“And obviously working alongside Glenn and the staff he had assembled.”
Clark began the managerial learning curve in the summer of 2006 when Roeder took over at Newcastle United and made him first team coach and reserve team boss. When Roeder joined City last November, Clark followed within a couple of days - and the curve was just as steep and well documented. City were bottom of the Championship with eight points from 13 games, but between them Roeder and Clark turned it round and City were save the ignominy of relegation.
Hopes for this season were high, but it hasn't gone as planned.
“It was a big call last season when we came in, but we achieved what we were put in to achieve and we felt that we'd assembled a far superior squad to the one we inherited,” said Clark.
“I think on those occasions against the teams above us or the ones who are classed as favourites for the top places in the league we played very, very well against them.
“We got positive results and also the high pressure game of the derby match as well, which was overall a very good performance and with a result as well.
“The key to all this is just the consistency, and everyone knows that inside and outside the camp. Certainly we have seen that, it's there for all to see.
“Wolves was the perfect example. A fantastic performance, and it wasn't as if Wolves were on a little sticky patch beforehand and they certainly didn't go on a little run of defeats afterwards, they carried on winning.
“Birmingham should have been a win, we played ever so well.
“Sheffield United, one of the top teams who were going to be thought of as a top-six side - excellent performance.
“Then there's obviously the derby game, so when the lads have gelled they have put in very, very good performances which we were expecting more regularly.
“I think in terms of an overall look at the season performance-wise you can probably count on one hand the disappointing performances, but it is obviously a results-driven business, everyone knows that.
“It's marrying them together, getting the performances and the results.”
It's the job Clark has left Roeder and Co to do - and one which he will be hoping he can achieve at the Galpharm Stadium, where he takes over a team that sit nicely placed at 10th in the table, seven points off the final play-off position.
Huddersfield are better placed than Norwich to make a promotion challenge, but the ambitions of a bright young manager are simple.
“For both of us to be in the Premier League,” said Clark, still struggling a little to drop the possessive. “I hope to have Huddersfield in the Championship next season, but in all honesty I hope that Glenn can go on a similar type of run that we went on last year when we got within four or five points of the play-offs - but go that step further this year and get the club into the Premier League.
“I hope we are always chasing their tail really until we both get to the Premiership.
“The worst case scenario is we do play each other in the Championship, but the ideal situation would be for Huddersfield to get promoted to the Championship and for Norwich to have a fantastic run from now until the end of the season to get in the top six and get in the Premier League.”