LEE Clark has revealed that chairman Stewart Day’s desire to ultimately lead BURY into the Championship was the key behind his decision to become the Shakers’ new manager on Wednesday.
Chris Brass had been interim boss since David Flitcroft was sacked in November. Despite there being over 70 applicants for the job, Day felt none of them fit the bill so was happy for Brass to remain in charge till the end of the season.
But with the Shakers having recently slipped into the League One drop zone, Day felt it was time to go get his man – and that man has proved to be Clark.
The former Huddersfield and Birmingham boss had been in charge of Kilmarnock for just over a year, keeping them in the SPL last season and in the top 6 this term.
Day made a move for the ex-Newcastle and Fulham midfielder this week and although Kilmarnock were reluctant to let him go, Bury eventually agreed a compensation package with the Scottish outfit.
Clark admits it was a tough decision to leave Kilmarnock. He resigned after being unable to stop Blackpool being relegated from the Championship in 2015 and was still out of work when Killie appointed him last February.
But, like Flitcroft before him, the 44-year-old was impressed by Day’s vision for Bury and likened it to when he took charge at Huddersfield in December 2008. Clark twice led them to the League One play-offs before being sacked in February 2012, three months before Simon Grayson finally led the Terriers to play-off glory.
“I was in a great job,” Clark said of Kilmarnock during his first press conference as Bury boss on Thursday morning. “I’d got my ‘mojo’ back in my managerial career after a little setback and I was enjoying it.
“So when I took the call from the Kilmarnock directors (on Monday) to stay there’d been an approach, I was surprised. I was preparing the team for Sunday but when I got the chance to speak to the owner (Day), his ambition matched mine.
“I wouldn’t have just taken any job to leave the one I was in. It wasn’t as if I was a manager out of work. I was in a good job so it was a difficult decision.
“I’ve made a lot of friends there. They treated me and family fantastically well, the players gave me everything, the staff were loyal, the supporters were superb and I got backed by the directors. People only come for you if you’re doing something right where you are – and we were, we were pushing the club on.
“But this appeals. The ambition is very similar to when I first walked in at Huddersfield Town. I had a similar reaction with the owner there, Dean Hoyle.
“It was the ambition of the owner (Day) and what he sees the long-term project being. The short-term target is to stay in the league, then you can rebuild and do your own bits and pieces come the summer. That’s the main objective, the next 14 games.”
After Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at home to MK Dons, Bury are 4th-bottom in League One, 2 points from safety, and visit 2nd-bottom Chesterfield this Saturday.
When Day led the takeover in 2013, he announced a 5-year plan to guide the club back into the Championship. That leaves one more season to win promotion from League One and Clark believes that if the Shakers stay up this term, they have the potential to progress.
“We’ve talked about getting into the Championship but we know the short-term goal has to be to keep the club in League One,” Clark added. “You never waver from your long-term plan as well, no matters what happens, if you have setbacks now and then.
“You can see the ambition. The facility we have here (at Carrington), there’s no better training ground than this (at that level). I want to create a training-ground environment where the players don’t want to leave, they want to work and try to improve. There’s a potential new stadium on the horizon, which is another big thing.”
Clark added he is looking to bring in at least one of his trusted allies to join his backroom staff, with former Bolton midfielder Alan Thompson strongly linked with a role at Gigg Lane.