Clark: I’m no Oyston puppet

Blackpool manager Lee Clark shouts instructions to his team from the dug-out
Blackpool manager Lee Clark shouts instructions to his team from the dug-out
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Lee Clark hit out at his critics by insisting he isn’t Karl Oyston’s puppet.

The Blackpool manager reacted strongly to claims that chairman Oyston is influencing team selection.

A group of travelling supporters showed their displeasure when Clark went over to applaud them after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn.

Clark was quick to defend himself afterwards, saying: “I think some of the fans seem to think I’m the chairman’s puppet, but I’m far from it. I’m no-one’s puppet.

“The fans saw me take this job and think I’m pally with the chairman – I’m not.

“The only time there has been a problem is when I wanted to play Mark Waddington and Dom Telford but the club policy was that I couldn’t (because neither had signed a professional contract).

“But I worked on the chairman and now they are playing. If I was a puppet I’d have accepted that and wouldn’t have kept fighting.”

Clark arrived at Bloomfield Road amid the storm which followed the messy departure of his popular predecessor Jose Riga in October.

Though most supporter protests continue to be aimed at the Oystons, a minority have targeted Clark in recent weeks, though he assured the fans he is doing everything he can to help the club.

The manager added: “I’m not blaming the supporters. It’s their club and they are very unhappy about what’s going on.

“I’ve come here to be a football manager and to try to do the impossible job.

“I’m not arguing with supporters. I respect them immensely. Whatever they think, I’m with them 100 per cent.

“I’m just here to try to help their club and I’m working very hard.

“I’ve made decisions at the football club and left out senior players who in my opinion had put the club in a difficult position. I’ve replaced them with young players who care about this club and who the fans should take to their hearts.

“They can rest assured I have dialogue with the chairman but he has no influence at all in picking the team.

“I was accused of not being positive enough at the end of the game against Forest, but we had eight (fit) players on the pitch. I am working hard every single day for the fans.”

Saturday’s starting 11 included five who had never played Championship football before this season, and Clark urged fans to sympathise with his situation.

“What more can we do?” he asked. “We are putting lads on who have never experienced senior football before. With that, injuries and illness it’s tough.

“I look at the benches of teams we play against, and in most cases the players on those benches would get in our (starting) team. That’s where we are at the moment, that’s the reality.

“The social media nonsense about me doing what Karl Oyston says is nonsense.”

Clark reiterated his belief that Pool can still beat the drop, though the league table makes grimmer reading than ever.

He added: “I knew when I first walked through the door it was an extremely tough situation. I thought we can (survive), I still believe we can.

“It’s getting harder by the game but we’ve still got to keep fighting. What’s encouraging is the players are still fighting. They aren’t throwing in the towel and the supporters can see that.

“I know this game. Things can happen that are absolutely outrageous, and from now until the end of the season we could go on a ridiculous run of wins that do it for us.

“In normal circumstances this would be a really good point but we’re not in a scenario of normality at the moment.”