Clark: Jimmy’s ‘hurt’ made me quit Pool

Lee Clark
Lee Clark
  • Decision made during chaotic final game
  • Clark believed he could save Pool
  • Players ‘begging’ to leave Bloomfield Road
  • Boss advised against Ranger contract extension

Former Blackpool boss Lee Clark has revealed how a moment with Jimmy Armfield made his mind up to quit Bloomfield Road.

Clark resigned as Seasiders manager after just six months in the job, days after a mass pitch invasion brought their Championship campaign to a shambolic close.

I’d done due diligence but nothing prepares you for the reality

Lee Clark

And Clark insists it was seeing Pool legend Armfield “hurt” that finally tipped him into walking away.

In an interview with The Mirror, Clark said: “I’d had regular sitdowns with Jimmy Armfield, talking about the club’s great old days, but I saw him while the referee and match commander were trying to decide whether we would go back on the pitch and could see the hurt in Jimmy’s eyes.

“That really hit me hard. That probably made my decision to leave.”

Blackpool were relegated with just 26 points – a record low for The Championship, a dishonour shared with Stockport County.

Despite that, Clark revealed chairman Karl Oyston – the focus of the fans’ anger – asked him to stay on.

He said: “I’ve always tried to have a relationship with supporters but I got labelled as a good friend of the Blackpool chairman, who was backing what he was doing, when I wasn’t.

“I didn’t fall out with him, in fact he asked me to stay, but I’d wanted to do a job for the supporters.”

Former Birmingham boss Clark insists he did his homework before stepping into the Bloomfield Road hotseat but he made it clear nothing could prepare a manager for the reality of life inside the club.

He said: “I think 99.9 per cent of people thought I shouldn’t take the job – but managers need an ego and I thought I could be the miracle worker.

“I did the due diligence, but I soon realised all those people warning me off were being proved right. I’d done due diligence but nothing prepares you for the reality.”

That reality included a squad that had been thrown together in a matter of weeks after a summer-long dispute between his predecessor Jose Riga and chairman Karl Oyston over transfer policy.

Clark said: “In my first game, I had players with fatigue - one going down with cramp before half-time. They’d had no pre-season.

“They brought in a bucket-load of players at the last minute. It looked like they’d recruited players who thought, ‘This is our last choice, so we’ll sign for Blackpool’.

“In January, I had disenchanted players, good pros, begging me to leave to further their careers.

“There was always a negative story. The kitman left and the keeper, Joe Lewis, had to play in a signed jersey because we couldn’t find another. Even the pitch was an embarrassment.”

Clark went on to reveal that before departing he advised the club against taking up the option of striker Nile Ranger, who reported sick with a toothache in December and hasn’t been seen since.

Clark explained: “Nile was getting paid, then fined every day he didn’t turn up. My advice was for the club not to take up the option of another season for him but they have done.”