Lee Clark Sacked: Draconian Action or a Shrewd Decision?

The news broke this afternoon that Huddersfield Town have sacked manager Lee Clark.  The decision was taken, according to Town chairman Dean Hoyle, because “We still have an opportunity to achieve promotion and we have made this change with this in mind.”  It will no doubt have come as a shock to many fans and opinion is likely to spilt over whether the decision is an unfair one or a brave one that will ultimately benefit the club.

Clark’s Huddersfield side lost a vital six-pointer last night, something that has undoubtedly played a large part in the decision to let him go.  A win at the Galpharm Stadium over promotion rivals Sheffield United would have put the Terriers in prime position to claim the division’s second automatic promotion spot.  However, they suffered a 1-0 defeat, leaving a four-point gap between themselves and the Blades, having played an extra game.  Despite this disappointing result, Clark’s side have been in good form, as has been the case for most of the season.  Town were unbeaten in nine league games prior to yesterday’s result and have been in the promotion mix from the beginning.

Last season, Huddesfield suffered promotion heartache, reaching the playoff final, where they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Peterborough at Old Trafford and looked to have an excellent chance of going better this time around.  In fact, excluding the playoffs, Clark guided Town to the longest unbeaten run in the club’s history, which saw them put together 43 league matches without losing.  This tremendous run came to an end in November, with a 2-0 loss to league leaders Charlton, and may remain a Football League record for some time, as well as a shining light on the manager’s CV.

Clark has also played an instrumental role in palming off higher division interest in Huddersfield’s key man Jordan Rhodes.  Scouts from all over the country have been flocking to Yorkshire to see the prolific striker in action and it was believed by many that he was on his way out of Huddersfield in January.  However, the hard line from manager and chairman was one of “not for sale” and they didn’t disappoint supporters by going back on their word.  This loyalty and determination to succeed at the Galpharm was impressive and there will be people who feel today’s decision represents a lack of appreciation and the mistreatment of a dedicated manager.

I wrote an article near the beginning of last month, outlining which of the potential suitors would be most likely to secure the signature of one of the Football League’s hottest properties, should he decide to move on, and the reaction from Town fans was hostile.  They believed wholeheartedly in the resilience of Clarke and Hoyle and attacked me for suggesting the two of them may be undermined.  However it seemed that, while there was love for Lee Clark, the majority of that valuable commodity was reserved for the chairman.  A wealthy, die-hard Huddersfield fan, Dean Hoyle commands a lot of respect in that part of the country and there was evident belief that his word is gospel.  Perhaps then, Town fans will stand by Hoyle over this latest decision, regardless of their respect for Clark, out of the loyalty created by what the chairman has done and will continue to do for the club?

So what does the immediate future hold for Lee Clark?  It has already been strongly suggested that he will take the vacant manager’s post at Elland Road.  Leeds United and Huddersfield Town are the fiercest of rivals and there have been reports of interest in the position from Clark since the day Simon Grayson was terminated.  Other reports suggest he may have his eye on the recently vacated position of Wolves manager, but his inexperience will perhaps count against him there.  Either way, Clark has done an excellent job for Huddersfield and I hope no grudges are held between any of the parties involved.  Having said that, how popular will Dean Hoyle be if Clark were to move to Elland Road and lead their long-awaited return to Premiership football?

Paddy von Behr @HighBalls1

For more Football Blogs and opinion from football fans around the world

Comments are closed.