Huddersfield Town have sacked their manager Lee Clark, along with his entire backroom staff. Academy manager Mark Lillis will take control of the first team until a new manager is appointed. This has led to opinion being divided amongst Terriers fans, and most pundits and observers are condemning Town Chairman Dean Hoyle for the decision. Let’s face it, it’s not as if Town are in crisis. Fourth in the league at the time of the dismissal, and looking good for at least a play-off place.
However, this might be the problem. The play-offs. Clark has led Town to a play-off finish for each of the last two seasons, and then seen his side beaten. Hoyle has made it quite clear that promotion is a must this season, and he has ploughed an awful lot of money in for a League One club. As it stands, after defeat to Sheffield United in Clark’s final match in charge, the play-offs now seem the most likely outcome for Town, and Hoyle must feel that Clark doesn’t have what it takes to get a team promoted this way.
The whole situation is a mess. Reading the comments on Twitter and message boards, the rumours are that Hoyle wasn’t even in the country and Clark got sacked in a thirty-second phone call from a board member. If this is true, it is a little shoddy to say the least. Lee Clark has reportedly turned down job offers from higher division clubs, most notably Leicester City, to stay at Town, and then to be treated like this is going to sting. There are also stories circulating that Clark has been applying for jobs without the club’s knowledge, and that this has angered the board. He has been heavily linked with the vacancy at neighbours Leeds United, and the rumour mill suggests that he was blocked from applying for it. Whatever has happened, and more will no doubt be revealed over the coming days, it would appear that relations between Clark and Hoyle have deteriorated rapidly.
According to the official statement on Huddersfield’s website, Dean Hoyle said the following:
“This was a very difficult decision; one not taken lightly or in response to one result. Concerns have been raised over recent weeks.”
This surely means that the club have someone lined up to take the job? Or at least someone in mind? And if he’s been thinking about it for several weeks, why wait until a fortnight after the winter transfer window has closed to pull the trigger? And why let Clark sign three players during said window?! The good thing is that there is time to get a new man in, as Town don’t have a game until February 25th due to the FA Cup.
So, onto the topic of who will replace Clark as manager of Huddersfield Town. Two former Terriers managers, Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock, have been linked, although neither will get it in my opinion. Simon Grayson, Billy Davies, and Phil Brown are also on the shortlist, according to reports, and Sky Sports are running a story on their website linking MK Dons boss Karl Robinson with the job, but I don’t put much credence in that particular rumour.
Out of those listed, Simon Grayson, would be my first choice. I would ideally like Sean O’Driscoll, but I am not too sure he would leave his relatively new post at Nottingham Forest. However, the lure of another chance as a manager might be too good to turn down should it present itself. Grayson, though, would be favourite for me. Yes, he managed our most hated rivals, but he did a magnificent job at Elland Road, taking the club from League One to the higher echelons of the Championship. He was working in difficult circumstances too, with players being sold out from under him and not being given much money to spend. At a forward thinking club with an ambitious young chairman, he might fulfil his potential.
Imagine the headlines: Huddersfield and Leeds swap managers!
I was initially shocked and saddened by the sacking, but the right appointment would alleviate any disappointment among Terriers fans. Let’s just hope Dean Hoyle has got this decision right and, more importantly, gets the replacement right.
Written by James Bartaby, We Are Going Up’s Huddersfield Town blogger
James tweets at @jamesb5374