LEE CLARK is backing the squad he assembled at Town to win promotion this season and just wishes he was still in charge to finish the job.
LEE CLARK is backing the squad he assembled at Huddersfield Town to win promotion this season and just wishes he was still in charge to finish the job.
The 39-year-old Geordie fiercely disputes chairman Dean Hoyle’s opinion that he wouldn’t have guided Town into the Championship, either automatically or through the play-offs.
And he says he’ll celebrate as wildly as the most ardent Town fanatic WHEN they go up on either May 5 after Yeovil or May 26 at Wembley. Interviewed by Richard Keys on talkSPORT, Clark said: “I received a call from the owner the morning after the game against Sheffield United and it was just to the point, really.
“He said he didn’t believe I could deliver promotion and has subsequently been in the media to say that, which is something I dispute – and my view has been backed up by the new management team since they’ve been there.”
Asked about the record of only three defeats in 55, Clark added: “I think it’s been thrown back there have been a lot of draws in there, which could be possibly right, but if you can’t win a game, make sure you don’t lose it.
“We always went out to win every football match, the players will say that. We created numerous chances and, certainly, on the evening before I got the sack, if you read Danny Wilson’s quotes we played fantastically well and had our usual (at home) 23 or 24 attempts at goal and it just wasn’t to be that evening.
Clark – who wants to get back into the game as quickly as possible – said he had texted the chairman to say he had made a good appointment in Simon Grayson and he hoped they got promotion.
Other than that, there had been no contact and he hoped Town would resolve remaining issues over the departure as quickly as possible for him, assistant Terry McDermott, coach Paul Stephenson and development coach Steve Watson.
I would like it sorted out in the right and proper manner,” said Clark, who guided Town to two successive play-off campaigns and a Football League record of 43 matches without defeat.
“I worked extremely hard for the football club and moved it forward huge strides. We always talked about our relationship, myself and the owner, and it’s not just me (involved), there are three other great lads in Terry, Paul and Steve and their families to consider here.
“Huddersfield have moved on with a new management team and I just want things done in the right and proper way and let us move on in our careers.”
What did the owner say about the chase for promotion?
“He became worried we couldn’t deliver getting back in the top two, but if you see the results Charlton have drawn their last two so it’s still very ‘do-able’ and there’s a big Sheffield derby this weekend, so points will be dropped there,” answered Clark.
“He has said maybe we couldn’t handle the pressure if it came to a play-off final. We lost the last one, but that was very close until they (Peterborough) got their first goal, and we’ve handled huge games over the course of my period there, so I’ve got to disagree with that – and this has been backed up by what has been said by Simon Grayson and his staff.
“They are unbelievably positive they know the quality of the squad, the group and the set-up – the whole infrastructure of the club.
“I tried to fight my corner, but the phone call didn’t last longer than two minutes and it went along the lines of ‘I’m letting you go and re-booting the management team.’
“I said I thought he was making a mistake because we had played very, very well (against Sheffield United). He said he knew I would be disappointed and heard what I was saying, but that was basically the whole conversation and it went from there.”
Clark said he received tremendous financial support in building the squad.
“I had fantastic backing, fantastic,” he said. “In terms of budgets, the club are where they are along with Charlton and the two Sheffield clubs.
“The backing I got from the owner was brilliant, we had a fantastic relationship and I don’t want that to change, I never have done because, ultimately, we were on course to deliver what he wanted.”
Next he was asked if Town will go up this season?
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” was the emphatic answer from the former top-flight midfielder.
“That’s 100%. Simon knows that, everybody knows that, because they’ve got a fantastic group of players, the squad is brilliant and, individually, they are terrific. They will go up, hopefully in the top two after Yeovil on May 5 and I’ll raise a glass of champagne. If not, then May 26 in the play-off final at Wembley and I’ll do exactly the same because I’ve got lots of friends at the club.
“The supporters were magnificent to me, the players were great to me, the office staff and the owner and I want them to do it because they took me and my family into their hearts and I want them to achieve their goal.”
Clark said it should have been a compliment he was being linked with other clubs and he wouldn’t like to think that had any part in the decision to remove him from the job – because if he’d been doing a poor job no-one would have been interested.
So what’s next for a man who is totally steeped in football?
“I’m going to be a manager again a.s.a.p” he said.
“I’m ready to go, I’m 39 years of age and I’ve got so much energy and so much enthusiasm.
“I will wait for the right opportunity to come around and, while I’m waiting, I will go out and further my management education and my coaching education.
“I’ll go to clubs home and abroad and watch different managers and different coaches and see how they work and how they prepare.
“I will keep on learning, but hopefully it won’t be too long (before I’m back in a job) because this last week I’ve been a right pain in the neck to my wife!”
Keys then asked if Clark would do anything differently or change anything?
“To still be there, it’s as simple as that,” he replied.
“I love the place. Every day when I got in my car to go to training I looked forward to the job and to the day ahead and, when I gave the lads a day off, I was bored and wanted to be back in among them.
“It was the same when I had my summer holiday, which I needed, I wanted to get back in and we still had a few weeks to go, so I have got nothing but great things to say about that football club
“They gave me a chance, I had a great relationship with the owner and that’s why I don’t want it to end in the way it has in terms of some of the things that have been said.
“There will be nobody more happy than me on May 5 or May 26 if Huddersfield Town are promoted. Not if, when they are promoted.”