Pre-season has been Blackpool’s cancer, says Clark

Blackpool's manager Lee Clark
Blackpool's manager Lee Clark
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Lee Clark has described Blackpool’s pre-season shambles as the “cancer” which brought about the club’s almost certain relegation .

Under Clark’s predecessor Jose Riga, Pool had only six senior players under contract last summer and made their worst ever start to a league season, having rushed through 12 signings during the week before the opening game.

And with Pool destined for League One next season, the manager has demanded a different approach this summer.

“There won’t be a repeat of what happened in last pre-season,” promised Clark.

“I don’t want to use the word flippantly, but last pre-season has been the cancer that has got bigger and bigger throughout the season.

“How everything was done in pre-season multiplied day-by-day. The players weren’t in early enough and the club rushed into signings.

“You have to have a full pre-season. I can tell you that from personal experience.

“My best seasons as a player were when I’d had a full pre-season. Whenever I had a stop-start pre-season, through injuries or whatever, it always affected the season I had.

“I’ve sat down with the chairman and we’ve sorted out what we want to do in pre-season. We are in talks already about next pre-season and about the type of players I want at the club next season.”

Clark will have plenty of work to do, with just five players currently contracted to the club for next season.

Tom Aldred, Henry Cameron, Charles Dunne, David Ferguson and Connor Oliver will be part of Blackpool’s summer rebuild, with the rest of the current squad facing an uncertain future.

Tom Barkhuizen, Nyron Nosworthy, Darren O’Dea, Jamie O’Hara, David Perkins and Saer Sene will be totally out of contract at the end of the season, though Pool have the option to extend the contracts of everyone else.

Clark says there are big decisions to be made, adding: “Some players have clauses in their contracts which can be activated to keep them at the club. We are dealing with all those sort of things now.

“We have to make sure that when we do report back at the end of June we have the makings of a full squad.

“We will have a decent enough group to do good quality work. The lack of pre-season was a big factor in what’s happened this season.

“I’m focusing on the short term but also on the medium to long term too. Things will happen in terms of team selection and looking at players for the future.

“While it’s mathematically possible (to survive) we will keep fighting, but as you go further adrift and the games run out, then we have to look at different things.”