|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.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
Blogs by basilrobbiereborn
Blogs 30 bloggers
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Wivenhoe 23/2/91 by wessex_exile
And so the unbeaten run goes on. Ahead of yet another vital match against a promotion contender on Tuesday night, we pay our first visit to a yet to be featured competition, going back nearly thirty years in the process. Last time in the Matches of Yesteryear series we explored our furthest distance for a ‘local derby’ match at Wycombe, this time we reflect on what must surely have been the shortest distance ever between the U’s and opponents for a competitive match?
Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 23/3/02 by wessex_exile
Ahead of another vital match in our bid for promotion back to League 1, this time at t’other St James’ Park in Devon, we return to our previous spell at that level, and dip again into one of the odder football rivalries (given that over 100 miles separates us from them).
Matches of Yesteryear Special - U's v Bradford City 30/12/61 by wessex_exile
This one is a special for the Matches of Yesteryear series, as we step slightly outside the original concept of blogs related to my football memorabilia collection. I am delighted that our very own [b]pwrightsknees[/b] approached me with an absolutely fantastic idea just before Christmas, and an idea that really deserves this specific slot in our football calendar. It is also particularly appropriate given the terrible coincidence that Martyn King sadly passed on Christmas Day, the all-time record league goal-scorer for the U’s with 130 goals (1959-64).
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Lincoln 27/10/18 by wessex_exile
Firstly, my apologies that this is a bit later than usual – it’s been a pretty hectic week at work, and by the time I got home last night, I was ready for a few beers and not a lot more. As we approach a vital double-header at home for the U’s promotion challenge, and on 12 games unbeaten, we come right up to date with an equally vital home game from last season.
Matches of Yesteryear - Cheltenham v U's 22/2/03 by wessex_exile
The U’s travel to the Globe Arena tomorrow, aiming at the very least to keep the unbeaten run going – though in truth after three somewhat disappointing draws against Exeter, Crawley and Stevenage, surely nothing less than three points is acceptable? Ahead of this trip, the Matches of Yesteryear random number generator has chosen a match which for me has a particularly bitter-sweet poignancy.