Lee Clark was named Kilmarnock manager on 15th February 2016 after spells as manager of Huddersfield Town, Birmingham City and Blackpool. On Feb 14th 2017 (one year to the day of accepting the Killie boss position) Kilmarnock's board confirmed that they had allowed Clark to leave for Bury.
From his Wikipedia:
As a player, Clark had two spells at Newcastle United, and was their reserve team manager and coach after he retired. He also played for Sunderland and Fulham, and made 11 appearances for the England under-21 team. He was manager of Huddersfield Town for three years and of Birmingham City for two.
On 1 June 2006, the newly appointed Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder installed Clark as a first team coach and reserve team manager following Tommy Craig's departure while Clark was still playing for Newcastle. He remained as first team coach and as reserve team manager after retiring in 2007 until Roeder parted company with the club and Clark followed shortly afterwards in November.
In November 2007 Clark left his post at Newcastle to become assistant manager to Roeder at Championship club Norwich City. Clark remained assistant manager at Norwich until December 2008, when he left to become manager of League One club Huddersfield Town.
After Huddersfield Town had sacked manager Stan Ternent on 4 November 2008, The Terriers were reported to be interested in then Norwich assistant manager Clark. On 12 December 2008, Clark was officially unveiled as the new manager of the League One side, signing a three-and-a-half year contract. Clark replaced Gerry Murphy, who had been caretaker manager for the League One side following the departure of Ternent. The first move made by Clark was to appoint Terry McDermott as his assistant as well as bringing in Derek Fazackerley in as first team coach and Steve Black as performance coach, all of whom had previously worked with Newcastle United. Clark officially took over on 15 December; his first game in charge of the club was a 2–0 win over Hereford United on 20 December.
In his first season at the club he helped them to a ninth-placed finish in League One. They also only lost two home league games under Clark in the 2008–09 season. In his second season in charge, Clark helped Huddersfield to secure a play-off spot and became the first manager to win three Manager of the Month awards in a single season since Roberto Martínez in 2007–08. Huddersfield were defeated by Millwall in the 2009–10 play-off semi-final.
In the 2010–11 season, Clark guided Huddersfield to a third-placed finish in the league, earning them a place in the play-offs after a club-record 25-game unbeaten run in the league. They reached the final after beating Bournemouth 4–2 on penalties, but lost 3–0 to Peterborough United in the Old Trafford final. In July 2011, he agreed a new rolling contract with the club.
Clark continued breaking records at the beginning of the 2011–12 season, extending the unbeaten run in domestic regular-season league games to a Football League record 43 games.
Clark was sacked as manager of Huddersfield on 15 February 2012 following a 1–0 home defeat to Sheffield United. When he was sacked he said, "I'm shocked, but when Huddersfield go up this season, I'll be celebrating like any other Huddersfield fan."
On 26 June 2012, Clark was confirmed as manager of Birmingham City, with Terry McDermott as his Assistant Manager and Derek Fazackerley and Steve Watson as his First Team Coaches. John Vaughan was brought in as his Goalkeeping Coach and Malcolm Crosby was appointed Chief Scout. Clark signed Peter Lovenkrands, David Lucas, Hayden Mullins and Darren Ambrose in the summer of 2012, as well as Ravel Morrison, Ben Gordon, James Hurst, Leroy Lita, Paul Caddis, Paul Robinson, Rob Hall, Shane Ferguson and Wes Thomas later on throughout the 2012/2013 season.
Clark endured a difficult start to his managerial reign, with a draw and two losses in a row for his first three games in the Championship. His first win came against Peterborough but Birmingham suffered a 5-0 home defeat against Barnsley in September. During the January 2013 transfer window, Clark sold Jake Jervis, David Lucas and Jack Butland, who returned on loan for the remainder of the season. Clark struggled to get Birmingham out of the bottom half of the league until back to back wins against Derby County and Middlesbrough took them up to 12th place in March. Despite receiving criticism from fans for alleged poor management skills regarding public fallouts with Nikola Zigic, Clark has been praised for introducing academy players into the first team squad, players including Jack Butland, Will Packwood, Mitch Hancox, Callum Reilly, Koby Arthur and Reece Hales. Clark continued the start of 2013 with his team producing good form, including a 4-0 away win at Crystal Palace and back to back 1-0 wins against Bristol City and Leeds. After finishing the season in 12th place, 7 points off the play-offs, Clark made his first signings for the 2013/2014 Championship season with Darren Randolph, Andrew Shinnie and Lee Novak all signing on free transfers, whilst Olly Lee's loan was made permanent. The 2013-14 season started poorly again for Clark, with Birmingham winning just one game in the league against Yeovil Town as the Blues made their worst start to a league season for 25 years.
Despite poor results in the league (including a disappointing 18 home match run without a league win) and the removal from the coaching staff of Clark's right hand men Derek Fazackerley and Terry McDermott, Clark managed to keep Birmingham City in the Championship with an injury time equaliser from Paul Caddis in the final game of the 2013–14 season against Bolton, the 2-2 result being enough to keep the team up on goal difference.
On 20 October 2014, with Birmingham 21st in the table and having won at home in the league only once in more than a year, Clark and assistant Steve Watson were sacked. At the time of his sacking, Clark had only won 33 of his 116 games - the lowest win ratio for a quarter of a century from a Birmingham manager - and left the club just one point from the relegation zone.
On 30 October 2014, Clark was appointed manager of Blackpool on a one-year rolling deal. Having been bottom of the Championship since October 2014 and having won only four games all season, Blackpool were relegated to League One on 6 April 2015 with six games left to play. On 9 May 2015, Clark resigned as manager of Blackpool following their relegation from the Championship. Blackpool won only three games from 33 played under Clark's tenure.
On Feb 14th 2017 (one year to the day of accepting the Killie boss position) Kilmarnock's board confirmed that they had allowed Clark to leave for Bury.
Here's how Euan McLean of the Daily Record described his tenure & the timing of his resignation....
In football timing your run is crucial and Lee Clark couldn’t have orchestrated his dash out of Kilmarnock any better.
Yesterday’s shock departure – exactly one year after he was unveiled at Rugby Park – saw him power down the M6 towards Bury with a CV that must look terrific to his new employers.
From second bottom and battling through a nerve-jangling relegation play-off against Falkirk to survive in the top flight by the skin of their teeth, to their current position of sixth in the Premiership.
From a club operating at a loss of almost three quarters of a million pounds to the bumper bonus sale of Clark’s bargain basement signing Souleymane Coulibaly for a million quid within six months?
On paper, it’s hard to look at those stats and not declare Clark’s reign a resounding success.
Which is why the 44-year-old was savvy to jump ship while it’s still puffing along efficiently enough - but lurking just under the surface are the fragile signs of a club ready to spring a leak at any moment.
On his first day in the job exactly 365 days previously Clark spoke of the long term job of getting club back to competing for the European stage.
However, critics would point to his signing policy as anything but long term.
The decision to mercilessly cull the vast majority of a squad of perennial underachievers in the summer was as welcomed as it was understandable.
But his move to replace them with a flood of largely untried young players, many of whom on loan from lower division English clubs, sat less comfortably with supporters nervously waiting to see how the experiment would pan out.
The experienced influence of Gary Dicker proved a success, Coulibaly even more so with his 11-goal haul that earned that stunning offer the club couldn’t refuse from Egyptian side Al-Ahly.
But in this game of transfer market Battleships there were plenty more misses than hits.
In the total, Kilmarnock were involved in a whopping 45 player transactions under Clark - 21 of them shipping out and 15 of them arriving on loan.
Clark’s argument was such wheeler dealing is a necessary evil when you’re trawling the market on a limited budget, but it’s not a reassuring sight for fans hoping for a structured long term solution to the club’s problems.
And within the last intake of loanees in January came another huge dilemma that didn’t sit easily with the Killie support.
For the previous two seasons goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald had been Kilmarnock’s Player of the Year and this year he had looked very much on course to make it a hat-trick on the back of his consistent - often outstanding - points-saving performances.
Then in came a trio of loan signings from Newcastle, including 19-year-old keeper Freddie Woodman, and immediately MacDonald was bombed out in favour of the rookie.
What impact that controversial call may have had on the dressing room harmony in long term had Clark stayed, is now a question that will never be answered.
But it would be safe to assume that MacDonald will have been the happiest man in Kilmarnock yesterday when news of Clark’s departure broke.
Others within the dressing room, annoyed by Clark’s erratic chopping and changing of training times on a weekly basis in relation to the kick-off time of their next game, will also share in MacDonald’s relief.
Clark called it “chronological training” - preparing the body to perform at a specific time of day.
The players’ description was somewhat different, as having to juggle their home life and child care to accommodate late afternoon or night time sessions became an inconvenience that many felt was totally unecessary.
Some players may be happier now but in the stands and in the boardroom the festering feud of Kilmarnock’s civil war remains as bitterly entrenched as despised director Michael Johnson.
The unpopular former chairman’s defiant refusal to relinquish power at the club has become a costly saga that has turned away sponsors and fans at an alarming rate.
Fair to say the problems at the Ayrshire club run much deeper than Clark’s short-termism in the transfer market - and the manager himself must have seen that as clearly as he spotted the opportunity to make a sharp exit.
The statement on the club’s official website was laughable, claiming that the Board understood Clark’s desire to be closer to his family. A whole four miles closer, seeing as Bury is 143 miles away from his Newcastle home compared to the 147 mile drive from Kilmarnock.
Much more plausible is the notion that Bury made Kilmarnock an offer and, seeing an opportunity themselves to end this while the going looks good, they grabbed it.
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