|Lee Clark - the half term report|
Written by basilrobbiereborn on Thursday, 19th Feb 2015 09:38
For Lee Clark, we are more or less half way through the task he was given at the end of October, and it seems a good moment to have a look at how he is actually doing.
In some senses, nothing much has changed. The club are still bottom of the table, and still quite a long way from safety. They still haven't managed to win a game away from home, and when they do play at Bloomfield Road the atmosphere swings between sullen apathy and anger, bur rarely ventures anywhere else. As such, there probably isn't much in the way of hope that we are going to get out of the predicament we are in.
In other senses, a great deal has changed. Whatever the rights and wrongs of each party's position, there can be little doubt that Jose Riga was a disastrous appointment and his tenure at the club has done far more harm than good. He was certainly not responsible for all of it, but to my mind he and the chairman should both look back on that period and feel that they let a lot of people down very badly.
So, Clark isn't Riga, for which some thanks. I must be honest and say that at the outset I did not want him and thought the chairman had compounded one very bad mistake with another. And, to an extent, I still think the same way. He seems tactically rigid - and negative - to me, his public persona takes dourness to new levels and you do wonder what inspirational or motivational qualities he actually has.
However, there is a case to be made for him, the first of which is that he has presided over a modest - but noticeable - improvement in results. 15 points from 17 games is relegation form (and easily so), but it is a significant improvement on 6 points from 14, which is all his predecessor managed. He's also been pro-active in a way that seemed beyond Riga when it comes to getting in players. We'll never know all the ins and outs of the Belgian's recruitment policy (or lack of it), but Clark has been far better at getting people in, to the extent that there have been so many that you do wonder whether some of them (Sene, Feruz) have been left in a cupboard and forgotten about.
He has also shown a willingness to play younger players and in giving experience to the likes of Parish, Aldred, Waddington, Telford, Ferguson and Cameron he has shown a commendable desire to look to the future - not always easy to do when you are on a short term contract. If his interest in players like Potts is anything to go by, you get the sense that the average age of the squad might drop sharply in the summer.
And that really is the crux of it, as far as he is concerned. I doubt he will be sacked even if he does take us down and it will be interesting to see how he does with what its bound to be a much changed squad at a level where he has had some success in the past.
In all of this, of course, the elephant in the room is the chairman. I think he may have been more badly burned by his experiences with Riga than is immediately apparent, and he now seems to have stumbled upon a manager who he may be more comfortable with, in the sense that Clark seems more interested in acquiring and developing young players than he is in spending money. That said, he does need to be backed, and it is to be hoped that one day the chairman will find it in himself to acknowledge his past mistakes and learn from them.
For us, I think it is high time that some elements of our support conceded that Clark is trying to do a difficult job in very trying circumstances, and it isn't merely because he likes rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty. He needs to work, he wants to enhance his reputation, and the sooner the puerile cries of "collaborator" stop, the better off we will all be.
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Blogs by basilrobbiereborn
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When Saturday Comes #16 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and this time instead of an international break we played yesterday evening, and now have the luxury of sitting back and seeing what’s going to happen around us in the league table. A gritty display last night saw the U’s fight back from a being a goal down, with Freddy netting his 8th of the season, helped in no small measure by an inch-perfect through ball from Alan Judge. Whisper it, but with (at least) 30 competitive matches to go to the end of the season, Freddy’s average of 0.4 goals per game would actually see him reach that mythical ’20 goals per season’ figure – not bad for an Ipswich reject 😊.
When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…will we still be in the FA Cup? I heard somewhere during the week that the U’s have been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition more times than any other league club! Remarkable really when you consider that many non-U’s associate Colchester United with the greatest FA Cup giant-killing of all time. Following tonight, we travel to Portman Road on Tuesday night to see if we can stay in the Pizza Slice Trophy. Regardless that it is a much-maligned competition these days, surely that’s motivation enough for our tractor boy contingent?
When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
A relegation six-pointer already, seriously! Grim news so early in a season which had such promise, but that may well turn out to be the reality when the dust settles in May. On the eve of All-Hallows Eve, I’m wondering whether the U’s will have served up Trick or Treat by 5pm this afternoon. Plenty has been written over the last week by supporters, the press, even the Chairman about the protests during and after the Sutton United rocky horror football show, and whilst everyone has the right to voice their opinion on the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch, that doesn’t give anyone (even the Chairman) the right to be abusive – it’s not big, it’s not clever, and if anything it undermines the validity of that opinion.