Last night I attended the question and answer session at St. Andrew's with manager Lee Clark, assistant manager Terry McDermott and first team coach Derek Fazackerley.
All in all it was a great night. Clark once again proved why he is growing on people; in that sort of situation – an “informal chat between friends,” quipped Tom Ross – his humor shone through, but above all what I got from the night was the chance to see once again just how determined and passionate Clark is about getting the best he can out of this group of players.
The night produced a mix bag of questions. The careers of Clark, McDermott and Fazackerley were reminisced, revealing the best players they had played with and against, as well as ex-Blues players they’d sign given the chance.
They also delved into academies, and how the bigger clubs pluck young players from clubs at will, citing Foday Nabay as a recent example, where the 15-year-old's head was turned by Fulham despite being in Clark's plans for this season.
But the main questions, as expected, were asked to the manager; mostly about the current squad, and how the strain of the financial situation is affecting us.
I myself posed the question about the 352 formation; when did he realise he wanted to use it and were Watford and Hull inspirations, showing how well it could be utilised last season.
He said he wanted to use it last season, but now we have all the right personnel who can implement it. Pre-season was about getting players confident in the new system, as to many it was alien as it’s a more foreign formation.
He also said – something many will be happy about – that he won’t be using it all season. It just gives us another option which has actually made us more solid but not worked quite as well in other areas.
Clark was very honest (if you were in attendance last night you’ll know just how honest!) and when asked if, knowing what he knows now, would he still have taken the job, without hesitation he said “of course.”
He believes he can make us successful. He doesn’t want to make excuses, and just wants to get on with what he has at his disposal and see what he can do; hopefully being able to mold them into a team the fans are proud of.
He talked the squad up quite a bit, which I believe after performances this season is deserved praise, mentioning the maximum effort they give each time they ‘cross the white line’ and if they keep going like they are he is confident things will turn around.
As for what he has in terms of players in the squad he spoke of the obvious mix of youth and older, more experienced players that the younger ones can learn from. Above all he spoke of their hunger; they want to play higher than this division and although that means they might make mistakes, he can see them responding and learning all the time.
Some of his last comments just gave the message to the fans to “stick with us” – and I think that can be seen from the fan reaction in the games so far this season. We can see that the team is putting in the effort, and hopefully this means the results will come sooner rather than later.
This was the first in what Blues have said will be many manager/player events across the season, exclusive to season ticket holders, and it was definitely worth the money (£7 for an individual ticket, £10 for a pair).