Lee Clark – Crisis or just a Blip?   Leave a comment

By Jake Tolliday

Lee Clark’s management of Birmingham has taken a turn for the worst, three consecutive losses and with dismal performances that haven’t ignited the mood at St Andrews. Clark came into the job with vast experience of lower league management with 5 years at newly promoted side Huddersfield Town FC; he was eventually sacked despite taking the club on a 43 game unbeaten run. Birmingham reached the semi-finals of the play-offs last season and were favourites to be promoted, despite failing to reach the final and enter the holy grail of English football the Premier League they were under serious financial constraint and a transfer embargo was issued which has since been lifted. Lee Clark has inherited a strong squad that is clearly capable of pushing for promotion once again so why have they endured a dreadful start to the new football league season.


Formation– Lee Clark seems stubborn in his persistence to play a safe and predictable 4-4-2, this formation is more defensive than offensive meaning Birmingham FC under Clark prefer to invite the opponents onto them rather than press. The attacking options Birmingham have at their disposal would mean they are at their most dangerous when on the attack so need a formation that would suit this. The game against Coventry City saw them take the lead after this they began to sit back soak up pressure whilst creating chances in which Chris Burke hit the bar where he should have done better. The equaliser came for Coventry and immediately Birmingham became sloppy and made defensive errors and before they knew it they were behind, the simplistic formation meant that creating openings and gaps in the opponents defence were limited this was also down to team selection. The formation in my opinion that would suit Birmingham is 4-3-3 with the threat carried out wide high wingers can prove to be devastating. The midfield trio would be a combination of two deep lying and one that would be central and more attacking in their role. This formation depends on pacey wingers and a midfield that can pass the ball around yet attack and create chances with deadly accuracy. If Clark can change his philosophy of defensive football and switch the formation to one that can showcase Birmingham’s attacking talent then this would be a step in the right direction to getting the right tactics and help Birmingham to be more effective in future games.


Team Selection– Birmingham FC is littered with young starlets and older experienced professionals who have experience at the top level. Nathan Redmond, the young winger who primarily plays on the left is an exciting talent, his ability and performances has meant he has been linked with top Premier League clubs such as Manchester City and Liverpool FC. Redmond needs to play as many games as fitness allows, at such a young age he dos risk burnout and picking up soft injuries easier, if however given the right time he will quickly become an established winger in English football. Hayden Mullins joined Birmingham on a free transfer from money troubled Portsmouth, since making his debut against Barnet its clear to see he’s more squad player than a regular first 11 choice. Mullins so far has shown no justification of being picked to start games his passing ability has been sloppy and constantly puts pressure on his own defence because of this. Morgaro Gomis seems to be the wiser choice and in a 4-3-3 formation and with his tenacious approach of hassling opponents and pressuring them into mistakes he is perfect for the deep lying midfield role. Jack Butland has recently had heaps or pressure thrown his way and has to cope with it and as of late cracks have appeared mistakes that have cost his team goals. This has called people to ask is he overrated, I think not he a young goalkeeper and has much to learn and mistakes can help his career he can learn from them and improve his game, Jack Butland is deserving of his place and should not be dropped because of inexperience. The striker role is currently occupied by Marlon King and Peter Lovenkrands/Nikola Zigic, the 4-3-3 formation would see one lone front man and that for me should be either Lovenkrands or King and obviously rotated for fitness or cup games. The supply the striker will receive from both wide men and the midfield trio would mean there will be an abundance of goal scoring chances it will all rely on the finishing ability of the forward. Over all the team selection is essentially correct bar a couple that maybe are lucky to find them self in the first 11 of the team sheet.


Experience- Lee Clark has plenty of experience in his playing career spending time at four different clubs and racking up a total of 440 appearances. His managerial career however is limited to only Huddersfield Town in League 1, is this down to his poor start as manager of Birmingham City. League 1 isn’t the most competitive league when it comes to teams in contention for promotion and Lee Clark had a strong squad behind him but still failed to get his side promoted losing in both a semi-final and a final. The unbeaten run may have been a big achievement for Huddersfield but failure to reach the Championship with this record behind them was simply not good enough and the board ran out of patience and he was sacked. The Npower Championship is one of the most competitive leagues in England every team has expectations of promotion and managers with more experience than Clark have felled down to the huge pressure put on his shoulders. Chris Hughton’s success as manager of Birmingham is somewhat a hindrance as the cub and the fans expect the same kind of season they enjoyed in 2011-2012 which in truth is understandable. Clark will need to get the club in shape and competing for promotion sharply to keep the fans on board but it may be a poor start but there are only three games in Birmingham could win the Championship with several games to go that’s how much football can change.


Over all Lee Clark’s start hasn’t been what he would have expected but he needs to keep the faith and belief in his own ability as much of his players. The fans are always behind the team and management at Birmingham until the final whistle so he can be sure they will help in what way they can. I may be wrong Clark Is a football manager and has made a career out of it his philosophy and tactics could prove to work and be successful but these are just my opinions on Birmingham’s start to the new football league season.




Posted August 29, 2012 by Birmingham City Fans Forum in Birmingham City News

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