The performance of our young players has been the silver lining among the clouds of doom hovering over Birmingham City this season. We couldn’t afford to bring in many experienced players and there have been injuries so the youngsters had to step up to the first team and they’ve done well. By and large, the crowd has been forgiving when they made mistakes; fans have understood that they have been learning on the job.
There has been less understanding for Lee Clark. Before Christmas there were a lot of comments on forums saying he should be sacked. Some fans have changed their minds during the second half of the season as our form improved but he is still not popular in some quarters.
I was not one of those who thought Clark should be sacked although I didn’t particularly like him at first. When I examined the reasons for my dislike I realised it was because he was not Chris Hughton and his Geordie intonation made him sound depressed even when he was saying how well the team had played. Neither seemed a sufficient reason for dismissal.
Looking back on the season, my theory is that Clark has also been learning on the job and this may help to explain some of his weird team selections. What we have seen is a relatively young manager who moved up to the Championship before he was quite ready for this level. Just like the Academy graduates, he has made mistakes and I hope he has learned from them. I hope he’s learned a bit about man management and also how to chose his best team and formation when the players available are a random selection of kids, men past their prime, and just a few who might be able play at a higher level. He seems to care about the job and work hard. Who knows? Given time and a little leeway from the fans, he might develop into a decent manager.