Lee Clark still needs to be sacked

It’s interesting how quickly things can change in football. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on these very pages arguing that Lee Clark needed to be dismissed as manager of Birmingham City as a matter of urgency. I think I presented a rather good case, even if I say so myself.

However I think it’s also worth pointing out that mine was a minority viewpoint at the time. I felt pretty sure that events would vindicate me however. I wouldn’t consider myself a football authority in the same league as our peerless DC (and I can’t wait for his piece on Dinamo Zagreb so fucking well get on it with son), but I can spot a managerial turkey a mile off.

And so it has proved.

Another, disjointed, largely listless performance at home to a palpably superior (although not on paper, it is very important to add) Huddersfield side (Lee Clark’s former club) has led to the voices calling for Clark’s removal growing louder and more numerous. Many who argued that he should be ‘given time’ are now seeing that more time is simply giving ourselves less time to turn it round when he Clark is eventually given his marching orders.

I simply do not believe he has the wherewithal to turn it around, regardless of whether the media reports arguing there is unrest in the camp (link) turn out to be nonsense (and considering they emanate from the Daily Star, there is a rather more than even chance that they are utter bollocks)

Many were also arguing not so long ago that it was impossible for him to be given the heave-ho considering the parlous state of the club’s finances. As someone else once sagely remarked however, things are often impossible, until they suddenly become inevitable.

It’s interesting how quickly things can change in football. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on these very pages arguing that Lee Clark needed to be dismissed as manager of Birmingham City as a matter of urgency. I think I presented a rather good case, even if I say so myself.

However I think it’s also worth pointing out that mine was a minority viewpoint at the time. I felt pretty sure that events would vindicate me however. I wouldn’t consider myself a football authority in the same league as our peerless DC (and I can’t wait for his piece on Dinamo Zagreb so fucking well get on it with son), but I can spot a managerial turkey a mile off.

And so it has proved. There is no evidence of the much-promised improvement.

A disjointed, largely listless performance at home to a palpably superior (although not on paper, it is very important to add) Huddersfield side (Lee Clark’s former club) has led to the voices calling for Clark’s removal growing louder and more numerous. Many who argued that he should be ‘given time’ are now seeing that more time is simply giving ourselves less time to turn it round when Clark is eventually given his marching orders.

I simply do not believe he has the wherewithal to turn it around, regardless of whether the media reports arguing there is unrest in the camp turn out to be nonsense (and considering they emanate from the Daily Star, there is a rather more than even chance that they are utter bollocks)

Many were arguing on the various Blues discussion boards and forums not so long ago that it was impossible for him to be given the heave-ho considering the parlous state of the club’s finances. Paying him off would be prohibitively expensive. As someone else once sagely remarked however, things are often impossible, until they suddenly become inevitable.

These arguments are still being made but are getting less and less convincing as every defeat game passes and the people making them sound less and less sure of themselves. It may be a statement of the obvious but if Clark continues to preside over defeat after defeat, he will surely be dismissed come what may. Ergo, the arguments regarding the cost of paying him off irrelevant. The only debate is how bad it will need to get before Clark is shown the door. I think we reached that point several weeks ago.  

Personally I am fast coming to the conclusion (not that I consider it any great insight) that Lee Clark’s clueless bumbling will get us relegated if he is retained for several more months. And considering the owners are clearly desperate to sell, one would assume that they would know the effect of another relegation on the club’s value.  

That is not to say that I am necessarily convinced that Lee Clark will be sacked soon. I have no idea what is going on in the minds of the people running BCFC. However I simply cannot believe that too many more home defeats will be tolerated.

It may seem to be slightly hyperbolic to be arguing we are already in a relegation dogfight so early in the season, and its not as if the writers on these hallowed pages are immune to over-stating their case somewhat, but on this occasion I think I speak the unalloyed truth. Blues have been desperately poor all season, and at the time of writing this piece we lie one place above the relegation zone. Combined with the ever-receding likelihood of an upturn in performances and fortunes under Lee Clark, our status in the second tier is under serious threat.

Of course not everyone sees it that way. There are a couple of other arguments are used by Clark’s ‘defenders’, aside from the ‘can’t afford to sack him’ line:

  • Clark is operating under incredibly difficult circumstances with regard to the uncertainty and much-documented financial problems at the club. In truth he is. But so was Chris Hughton and I would argue that he Clark has had far more latitude in the transfer market than his predecessor, who in many respects was building a new team entirely from scratch. I don’t accept that off-the-field uncertainty necessarily impacts upon performances on the pitch. Again, there were plenty of bad headlines around the club last season and it had no discernible effect on how we played.

I am firmly of the view that the squad currently at Clark’s disposal (even accepting a few injuries) is capable of sustaining a promotion challenge with the right leadership. We still have one of the better teams in The Championship and certainly have enough goals in us to win more than we lose.

  • The injury crisis. Undoubtedly, Blues haven’t had a lot of luck with players getting injured, especially Paul Caddis who was looking pretty handy until he did his shoulder in. However, Clark has been allowed to sign four defenders on loan (plus Mullins permanently, who supposedly can play at full-back……) and has a couple of promising youngsters that could be thrown in. It’s very telling that he already has no confidence in one of his own loan signings, Chelsea’s Ben Gordon. Ultimately a good manager adapts and comes up with something, however imperfect.

Other Clark signings have either bombed (Darren Ambrose) or he refuses to select them (Ravel Morrison). Players who were exceptional last season have been a shadow of their former selves (Chris Burke, Marlon King, Curtis Davies).  

  • Probably the most serious argument is around who we would replace Clark with. Could we really hope to get anyone better? There are not a large number of British managers that spring to mind, I would agree. However I do not believe there is no one, anywhere in the world right now available to us that could do a better job than Clark and his backroom team. I would rather take a risk with a foreign coach or a relatively inexperienced one from the lower leagues with a few new ideas and a less Neanderthal tactical approach. A progressive, forward-thinking recruitment process could surely throw up one or two promising names who would be willing to accept the club’s problems in return for managing a team capable of at least challenging for top flight football. We are still a big club.

We are not too big to go down however.  

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