Date:Friday February 17 2012
Supporting a football team is always frustrating, but sometimes that frustration boils over to anger. I was very angry when my beloved Huddersfield Town sacked manager Lee Clark on Wednesday afternoon.
Clark had guided the club to an impressive 43 match unbeaten run - a football league record. He had taken us twice to the playoffs, first losing a semi-final to a very strong Millwall team and secondly to be defeated by a Peterborough team now holding their own in the Championship. The club are positioned 4th in the League One table and although they lost to Sheffield United in what was Clarks final match in charge, are still well placed to make a push for a top 2 finish.
Can you see why I`m angry? Of course you can, but you`re wrong. I`m not angry because the above stats prove he should not have been sacked, I`m angry because they cover the cracks of what was ultimately a failed reign in charge of the Terriers. That`s right, I - and most Town fans agree with me - am delighted that Lee Clark was sacked on Wednesday afternoon.
The reason I am angry is because everybody in the country - neutral fans, journalists, reporters, pundits, players - seems to have branded my club a disgrace before properly looking at the facts. I`ll enlighten you on Lee Clark`s real reign as Huddersfield Town manager, not the unbeaten record fairytale version.
The Geordie was appointed manager in December 2008, and it was his first managerial position after coaching spells with Newcastle and Norwich. He wasn`t expected to perform miracles in the remaining 5 months of the season and didn`t do so. What he did was quite clearly install confidence in the team and get them playing a pretty decent brand of football. Town went on to finish 9th, a respectable position but one that was definitely expected to be improved on the following season.
That position was indeed improved on as Clark led Huddersfield to a playoff position the following season after at times flirting with a top 2 finish. Although the club were beaten by a very strong Millwall side in the semi-finals it was hard to view the season as anything other than a success. The football on display throughout the season was scintillating as we scored goals for fun and earned ourselves a reputation as League Ones "entertainers".
It`s worth noting that Clark had already spent quite heavily and brought in a lot of his own players at this point, and he continued that policy by signing quite a few more players before the beginning of last season. Alan Lee, Jamie McCombe and Joey Gudjonsson were all signed and will all no doubt be amongst the highest paid players in the division. This sort of strength and experience is exactly what was needed and most Town fans believed this would be our season.
Midway through last season was when some fans first started to turn on Lee Clark. His mantra changed from all out attack to a dire "one point is better than none", and we started accepting draws when a victory was well within our reach. This is when the unbeaten run started, a run which astoundingly does not take into account the humiliating 3-0 defeat to Peterborough in the playoff final, a match where once again one striker was preferred to two and leading scorer Jordan Rhodes was left on the bench.
The unbeaten run continued through the beginning of this season and culminated in the breaking of a football league record when a 2-1 victory at home to Notts County saw us make it 43 without defeat (excluding the playoff final of course). Despite going so long unbeaten we were beaten by Charlton immediately after and found ourselves in the exact same position we had been when the run started - outside the automatic promotion places.
Since that defeat the performances have continued to be poor and we have continued to draw far too many matches, in fact out of 13 draws so far this season 11 have been from winning positions - 22 dropped points. Given the unlimited transfer funds he had at his disposal (44 players signed in 3 seasons) and the massive wage bill he racked up, can Lee Clark really be described as the brightest up and coming manager in the country? He still had not achieved promotion, looked to be heading for another playoff campaign, and had his team playing awful football - so for me the answer is no.
His sacking was justified, he had more than enough time to get Huddersfield Town promoted or have them running away with the league this season. Instead they lie in 4th place and look like anything but promotion contenders based on recent performances. Rather than looking at the headlines and being blown away by some unbeaten run which achieved the square route of nothing, listen to the real fans who are there week in week out. Lee Clark failed and it`s time for a change, thank you and good luck in your future endeavours.
Our thanks go to Scott Castle for this piece, you can Follow him on Twitter @Terrier1987Cas.
Date:Friday February 17 2012
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