Can Clark re-build his reputation at Bury?


Lee Clark –

Having taken on the job of keeping Bury in League One, Lee Clark certainly does not manage the easy way.

He had some success in League One with Huddersfield, who went on a 49-game unbeaten run under the Geordie. However, some Terriers fans would point out his questionable conduct off the field, the high-number of draws and midfielders brought in as well as uninspiring football.

Clark then achieved the bare minimum at Birmingham. He took them to a respectable 12th in the 12/13 campaign thanks to an improvement in form in the latter stages. In 13/14, the club achieved the bare minimum by staying up with limited funds and grave uncertainty off the field.

Their final day survival was as much down to Paul Caddis’ late final day equalizer at Bolton as it was the standard of relegation rivals Doncaster, Barnsley and Yeovil, two of whom now in League Two. Clark was justifiably criticized at St Andrews for bringing in too many loanees, changing tactics too quickly and fielding players out of position. Politically, he was also seen as somebody too close to and supportive of Carson Yeung’s regime which hindered his relationship with the fans.

Having been dismissed after a change of ownership, Clark endured similar criticisms at Blackpool, though it is important to consider the club’s situation. The Seasiders would surely have gone down under previous boss Jose Riga and without Clark, they then suffered another relegation from League One, indicating the tides he was facing.

After leaving Blackpool, he has done a good job at Kilmarnock, another club with limited funds. Despite seeing star striker Souleymane Coulibaly leave without being immediately replaced, he led Killie to survival last season and sixth place in the SPL.

The board there have reluctantly let him go leave for family and career reasons, joining struggling League One side Bury. There is pressure on him at Gigg Lane, not just for personal reasons and the relegation battle ahead, but also due to the mounting financial problems at the club. Chairman Stewart Day has debt to pay off as well as the two years on Clark’s Kilmarnock contract.

However, the ex-Fulham midfielder inherits a squad more than capable of survival and one that has shown steady improvement over recent weeks. Their defence has kept back-to-back clean sheets which saw Anthony Kay, who played under Clark at Huddersfield, show steady improvement in performances. Their attack is at its best with another ex-Terrier, James Vaughan, who would be competing in the division above but for his horrendous fitness record.

Sadly, he may have picked up another damaging injury in last night’s goalless draw with MK Dons, which would make survival for Bury an even bigger challenge. Then again, Clark is seldom afraid of those.