IT’S a long way from Paisley to Huddersfield, but Lee Clark reckons his studies of St Mirren in the seventies could help Town in 2011.
The Galpharm boss is eager to learn from the best in the business, and lists Sir Alex Ferguson (pictured below), Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, David Moyes and Graeme Souness among his biggest influences.
Clark, of course, has pitted his wits against Wenger’s Arsenal and Moyes’ Everton the FA and Carling Cups this season.
He’s been to Barcelona to look at the Spanish giants’ methods first hand, and spoken to Manchester United chief Ferguson, who cut his managerial teeth at East Stirlingshire and St Mirren before success at Aberdeen brought his move to Old Trafford.
“I was always looking to improve as a player, and I’m just the same as a manager,” said the 38-year-old.
“I study the top managers, read up about them and look at what they put out to the media, listen to what they say and try to pick up any things which will help me.
“There was a great piece with Xavi in one of the papers recently, talking about the Barcelona way of doing things, and it was great to have the chance to go over there.
“Their recent Champions League game against Arsenal was enthralling – the absolute quality of both teams, the mental and technical battles which were going on all over the pitch – it was magnificent to watch.
“I’m lucky enough to have played against Guardiola, although I didn’t get that many touches of the ball, and Wenger is a manager who has not only built a team, but a club.
“He’s had a huge input into the magnificent stadium where we played last month, and also the training ground, which is superb.
“But when it comes to the great managers, you can’t look any further than Sir Alex. He’s the boss of bosses, and when you have a conversation with him, you listen, and remember that he was once a young manager making his way just as I am now.”
Moyes is often talked of as a potential successor to Ferguson at Old Trafford, and Clark continued: “David is a man I have a lot of respect for.
“He came through from the lower leagues with Preston, he is very hard-working and has done a terrific job on limited resources at Everton.
“Like Arsene Wenger, he’s overseen the creation of excellent training facilities, which we’ve had the pleasure of visiting for a match.”
Souness was Clark’s manager in his second spell as a Newcastle player, and the pair met up before last Saturday’s League I game at Bournemouth, which the former Liverpool teammate of Town assistant manager Terry McDermott came to watch.
“It was good to have half an hour with Graeme beforehand, and he was quick to ask about the crop of good young players we have at this club,” said Clark.
“I told him a good number of them are capable of playing in the Premier League, and I would like to think it could happen with this club.
“That’s in the future, of course, but you have to aim for perfection, even though you’ll never get it, because you are always raising the bar.
“What you can achieve is the correct work ethic, endeavour, attitude, application and desire to work for the group, and that’s what I demand as a base level.”