Managers Comments - December 2016

Dec 31st on the Jags Post-Match: "It was important for us to get something from the game whatever it way it came. We were very, very depleted. You seen the team we had out. We've got a centre midfield Gary Dicker playing at centre half because of his experience. We were hoping for the win, we've got a clean sheet there's always something to build on and a point away from home is always a good point." - Match Report -

Dec 30th on Squad Changes Come the New Year:  “In order to raise the funds to bring other players in, that’s what needs to be done. Remember I have only had one transfer window. I need to be given an opportunity to reshape the squad even more. It was radical, but it was 100 per cent needed what I did in the summer. I’m going to get right on to it after the Partick game is finished and inform players they are surplus to requirements. Do I want to make us stronger? Of course I do even if that means my plans in terms of January might have to change. I thought I was only going to be bringing a couple of players in but I might need to wheel and deal to change things.  We need to be able to handle injuries better than we have. I will be looking for good players and experience will help. There will be a mixture of young and old players coming in. That’s what I want. I have to balance the books. I understand that. But the board will back us. If I want to bring in more than we initially talked about I will have to wheel and deal. That is part of the process.”

You have got to try and remain positive and I know the reasons why we have lost the last two (Saints (H) & Hearts (A)) games. I have five of my starting eleven missing. It’s as simple as that. Any team would struggle in those circumstances. We have had an injury nightmare which has decimated the starting XI. No team in the division would find it difficult without their five best players. If you take five of Rangers or Celtic’s XI or Hearts then it would effect how they play. I’m replacing them with youngsters and if you look at our bench on Tuesday it could have been the development team. We were missing Luke Hendrie, Miles Addison, Scott Boyd, Rory McKenzie, Greg Kiltie. They were all part of the group that got us positive results while Kiltie is the best player at the club. It’s not an ideal situation but that’s what I’ve got. I’ve got no other players available. The only other option is to throw even more untried youngsters in. It is difficult but I have to try and find a way of getting a positive result against Partick Thistle before we have a three week break.
Hopefully by the time we play our next league game we will have most of our players back, but this is the reality we have to deal with.”

Dec 27th on the Hearts Post-Match:  "It just highlights that I've got to change things in the January window to make us stronger,  We need to work really hard on Thursday and Friday on nailing down what we're going to do, I have to find a solution either with the formation or personnel. It's a huge game for us on the 31st of December. We need as many points from the teams around us because we're getting heavy defeats from the top six.  It's one before a significant break and we have to be right up for it.   We're in a rut, we've been struggling the last two games and we've shown that the injuries have taken their toll. We'll need to do something significantly different on Hogmanay against Partick Thistle to make sure we get a positive result because [in] the last two performances we've capitulated and that's been tough to take. We're down to the bare bones and we need these important players back as soon as possible, but I don't think that's going to happen before the weekend."   - Match Report -

Dec 23rd on the Saints Post-Match:    "The St Johnstone players managed the situation very well and Luke has got frustrated by it. It looks to me that the second one (yellow card)  is foul and abusive language, so we're very disappointed. But that was just an indication of where we were - ill-disciplined and fragmented.  I cannot fault the effort of the players at all but I just felt there was no cohesion and I played a big part in that because I made the wrong call in taking Nathan off." - Match Report -

Dec 22nd on the Saints Pre-Match: "Progressively we have improved over the first half of the season and all of those lads have made a contribution. Sometimes that stability is important. Hopefully we will have Kris Boyd back available in the squad, which is a big boost with his experience. We are still fighting to get some defenders back fit. If not, we will go again with the boys who played really well on Saturday."

Dec 20th on the Squad Status: "In January, we expect Miles Addison and Scott Boyd to be available for the Hamilton cup tie,  We are looking at one or two things, we've already been looking at certain positions and that hasn't changed our mindset.  If we were to get some kind of setback with those lads' injuries, we might have to reconsider that. We are not in total control of their (the six loan players) destiny, Even if we want them to stay, it is whether their parent club wants them to stay and whether they want to stay.  Continuity is a big thing, The lads have grown into playing for the club, they've grown into the group and progressively we've improved over the course of the first half of the season and all those lads have made a contribution."

Dec 17th on the Caley Post-Match:  "We haven't won it, which we deserved to. We've made an error that we've talked about. We cannot afford to do how you defend those type of balls. We've made an error and its cost us a big three points. Our first half performance we were the dominant side. Jamie MacDonald hasn't had a lot to do. They had a little spell in the second half where their striker was getting hold of the ball but in general terms we were the team in the ascendancy. A win would have been a deserved result but we haven't got it, and we move on. [On Coulibaly] That's why he has to be in the team. Not every game he has is a perfect game. He's playing out of position, he's working extremely hard for the side, but he has to be in the team. Certainly in these types of games because he just produces something different." - Match Report  -

Dec 14th 2016: on Killie's Defensive Injury Woes: “I’m down to the bare bones in terms of central defenders. I’ve got two fit ones who are senior, Will and Scott. Miles is not going to be fit until the Scottish Cup tie against Hamilton because he needs a small operation. He has been unlucky going out and playing in games with injuries that have caused other problems. It has been a combination of things. He has had no luck but it’s too easy to blame the pitch. My lads train on it every day and it’s not an issue. The operation will be on his foot. He had an injection before a game against Hamilton and another problem was then created within his foot. He tried to train before the Motherwell game last weekend in the expectation of playing but you could tell within a couple of minutes he wasn’t right. We decided to see the specialist, have it scanned and the operation is on Thursday.  Jonathan is back at Middlesbrough and I don’t think he’ll return before his loan expires at the start of January. We then have to decide whether he wants to come back, Middlesbrough want him to come back or whether we see it fit to continue.
On the January transfer window approaching .... “There will be an opportunity to move things around. We are already in discussions with clubs about players, loan deals and free transfers. If certain players become available we’ll have a look.”

Dec 13th on Kris Boyd's Media Work: "I've not seen the article but Kris is an experienced man who is doing a lot of work in the media. If he has an opinion on something, he is well within his rights to put that opinion forward.  If that means he takes a bit of stick at Tynecastle then I'm sure he will be big enough to take that on the chin. That's life. I don't think he's tried to be derogatory about anyone. He's given an honest opinion about what he believes. The teams meet at Tynecastle on December 27 but Clark does not think Cathro will be pinning Boyd's words up in the Hearts dressing room for motivation. I don't see it changing the mentality of the Hearts management team and their players when we go to Tynecastle,  They are a team who look to win every game in any case and be aggressive each time.
On 2017 Squad Planning: "We've made progress with one or two of the loan boys. We're still waiting for final confirmation."We're speaking to other clubs as well with regards potential signings. But I'm also aware though that if you change things too much and move all your loan players out and bring fresh ones in, that could upset the balance. Right now we're starting to see some of those lads produce some good performances. We didn't really have the time in the summer to bed the guys in and really ended up forfeiting our League Cup campaign. I didn't want to do that but it was the best thing that could happen as the players quickly realised what was required. But that can't be the case in January. We can't afford to lose a Scottish Cup tie or league games while those players are bedding in, so stability could be the key."  -

Dec 11th 2016 on his First 10 months at Killie: “I saw it as an opportunity to fall back in love with football.  I had offers down in England too, but they weren’t right for me. Scottish football is undervalued down south. It might not be at the same level, but that’s entirely down to finance. Look at Celtic in the Champions League. Getting there was a major achievement and both Old Firm clubs would more than hold their own in the Premiership. I honestly believe that.  I am loving it here. I have got my mojo back, I enjoy working with the players and I love this club. I am enjoying my football again. The experience at Blackpool really soured things for me. At one stage, I was questioning if I even wanted to come back into management.  I was drained after Blackpool. I didn’t get into the game to experience what I did there. I want my family to come along on match day, but that couldn’t happen.

“I understand if we don’t play well, I’ll get stick. That’s the nature of the beast. If we have lost and played poorly you will get a bit of verbal.  My wife and children know I’m there to be shot at. But when it crosses that line when you feel it’s not comfortable or safe for them to come along, then you have to take stock.  I promised my family I would never put them through that again. I was taking results and defeats home and you learn to handle it better.”

Yet Clark has been puzzled  at his decision-making coming under scrutiny ....  “That aspect has been strange for me. I was sent off after ten minutes on the first weekend. It feels like I’m fighting fire all the time. With regards to the story about me supposedly walking away and quitting, the players and my staff will tell you I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love my players and I love seeing them win. They know when I am upset. Can you hide something that goes on? I don’t think you can because a player may innocently talk to his mate or an agent and then it’s passed on to someone else. Those types of stories in the early part of my management career would have had me up in arms and hunting people down, but not now. I can’t control it. I don’t know if people are looking closer at me. I can understand why people were questioning the addition of so many new players, but I’m still of the belief it was the right thing to do.

“I’ve been in the game long enough now. There was always going to be scepticism with the turnover of staff. I understood what was being said, but these boys were being judged before they had kicked ball.  I offloaded a lot of Scottish lads and in their place I brought in a lot of untried boys from England. I just felt it was something I had to do. Some of the lads I let go were talented enough to still be here, but I had to change the mindset and ethos of the entire club.  Those who left had been around the club for three or four years and they had become used to being involved in relegation battles. It becomes hard to dog yourself out of that. It becomes second nature.

“The best thing to happen for the squad was the Betfred Cup. We went out in the group stages and it was a wake-up call for the ones I’d brought in.

“They were competitive games and it let them see what the game is all about up here.   People down south look at the Scottish game and don’t see any positives at all. The lads who came up, and while they won’t admit it, probably underestimated the game up here. Not just the quality, but the desire, attitude, hunger and work-rate of teams. Unfortunately it led to us being knocked out, but it prepared us for the league. We’ve had some big defeats, but we’ve had some decent runs too! The big thing people talk about with us is the training here. It’s chronological, (making his players train at the same time as they play) and for some that is a weird way of doing it.

“I’m trying to give my players every possible advantage, so it’s a case of being different and trying something new.  People make it out to be a big deal, but it’s not. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m just trying to give us an edge. I’m trying to get their body clocks in tune. If we play at 3pm, then we’ll train at 3pm. What’s the point of training at 10.30am?  Their bodies aren’t having a different reaction when they then play at 3pm. When you are working at this level the game is about fine margins.

“Two clubs have a much bigger budget, but the rest of us are looking for an edge. I’m giving the players everything I can, but it’s about how badly they want it too. I only want ambitious staff and players around me.  I’m not bothered if a player is using Kilmarnock as a stepping stone to bigger things. Why wouldn’t they?  I’m more worried about players who are just happy to be here.”

“After Jim (Smith) it went on with Ossie Ardiles, Keegan, Kenny, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, and I also worked under Sam Allardyce at Newcastle.  They were all different. Ossie showed huge faith in youth players and I am a massive believer in giving kids a chance. Kevin had unbelievable enthusiasm, Kenny was a Premiership winner with Blackburn and a brilliant man-manager.  Graeme showed me how to handle the tougher situations you find yourself in.  I have taken a bit from them all. I was continually watching and picking up tips.  I also worked under Peter Reid, Jean Tigana, Paul Bracewell, Chris Coleman and Roy Evans. They all had a positive impact. Most, if not all, had a desire to promote youth.” - Andy Devlin, The Scottish Sun, Dec 10th 2016 -

Dec 10th on the Well Post-Match: "We started well, had some good opportunities and then Motherwell came into the game and caused us one or two problems.
"And it was a result that was indicative of what the league is like: very, very tight. It's shown again (on Saturday), with the exception of Rangers winning, everybody else just getting draws."
On Miles Addison: "Miles has had a setback, unfortunately," Clark said. "He trained on Friday and didn't last too long, so he will have surgery on Thursday, I think. We hope to have him back for the cup tie against Hamilton in January. He won't play any time in this hectic month in December." - Match Report -

Dec 8th on Killie Using "Cryo Chamber" Technology: "It will give them the edge over their rivals this season.  The extreme cold conditions attack the central nervous system which reproduce the cells that help you recover quickly, So we can do this after matches and after intense training sessions. Obviously something like this in terms of finance doesn't come cheaply but they (the club's board) have bought in to what I'm trying to do," 
"In terms of playing budget we've not got a huge one, and we have a small squad, so we have to look at other things to try and gain that extra inch, the difference between winning and losing.

"We can't go out and splash ridiculous amounts of money and buy players and I want to give the players every opportunity to perform to their optimum on a match day. I was aware of it when I was a player,  I've been aware of it for a few years."

"I just want to try and build the club up, I want to build the quality of the players up, I want to build the infrastructure up, I want to build the sport science and medical team up. I want it to go to a new level."

The chamber exposes the body to temperatures of -137 celsius, and among other benefits, helps the prevention of and recovery from injuries.

Dec 6th 2016 on the Dons Post-Match: "I warned the players.  I was not falling into the trap that Aberdeen had turned into a poor team because they had lost against Celtic and Rangers.  I knew the threat they had and I saw the forward-thinking team they picked but I thought we started the game brightly.  However, when you defend in the way we did at certain periods, it is not possible to win football matches against any team, certainly not the top teams.  We have been playing well and in the last seven games, we have only conceded five goals and three of them were at Ibrox.  But strangely enough, in a 5-1 defeat, there were players, who performed very well, although I am very angry with the outcome.  It's important we bounce back against Motherwell, who we play at the weekend, but they will probably be rubbing their hands after this."   Match Report-

Dec 5th 2016 on the Dons Pre-Match: "We are confident after the weekend but not complacent and we know it is going to be an unbelievably tough game.  Aberdeen are a good side, they showed that when they beat us earlier in the season. They have some terrific attacking players who can open you up at will. I know they have lost their last two games but we are not taking any interest in that. They have set such high standards, they have been the closest challengers to Celtic." 

Dec 3rd 2016 on the Dundee Post-Match:: "I thought it was a dominant performance from start to finish. We created numerous chances. I thought to a man the players were fantastic, stuck to the game plan, we forced Dundee into a system change, albeit towards the end of the game. It was a thoroughly deserved victory and it could've been by a bigger margin. The games where we're playing teams in and around us, we have to have someone in goalscoring form. Souleymane does a lot of unseen hard work for us, but he's getting his rewards with the goals, the players appreciate what he's doing."   Match Report-

Dec 1st 2016 on the Dundee Pre-Match: “This month’s massive – starting with Saturday. Dundee are one of the form teams in the league with three wins out of four and they were very unlucky against Rangers.  They’re playing with confidence, one or two new players have made a difference. The seven games we’ve got gives us an opportunity to play teams in and around us. We’ve got to have a good month. We’ve always been targetting this one, November was a write-off for us because we only had a couple of games all month.  We haven’t got a massive squad so we’ll have to ask a lot of some of the players.  We had the defeat at Ross County and the first of the season at Motherwell but other than that we’ve done well against the teams in and around us. We’ll work hard this month and then have the winter break to rest some boys.”

Lee Clark's Comment's From : June-July - August - September - October - November -

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