Interesting Times Ahead With Steve Clarke At Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock FC’s start to the season was iffy to say the least and they decided to let rookie boss Lee McCulloch go and bring in a replacement.

The board at Rugby Park have been ambitious in their recruitment and have brought in Steve Clarke.

After a trophy laden playing career with Chelsea the Scot has worked with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Rudd Gullit, Gianfranco Zola  and Kenny Dalglish. His defensive coaching was particularly appreciated by those he worked for.

Clarke was given the opportunity to make his own name in management when he was named the head coach of West Bromwich Albion in 2012.

In his one full season in charge at the Hawthorns, Clarke often impressed in the dugout and guided the club to eighth place with a points total of forty-nine points. He managed to use his Chelsea contacts to bring in Romelu Lukaku on loan and the Belgian striker scored seventeen goals.

During his West Brom tenure Clarke saw his side record victories over Manchester United, Liverpool (twice), Everton and Southampton. 

He endured a tough start to his second season and he also fell out with then West Brom owner Jeremy Peace. He was relieved of his duties in November 2013, with Steve believing he was a victim of his own early success and that he deserved more time.

Clarke would get another chance as his own boss at Reading in December 2014 but only lasted a year. In that year he enjoyed a 35% win percentage ratio. He also watched on as he Reading reached their first FA Cup semi-final  in eighty-eight years.

Fulham were taken with Clarke and approached Reading to bring him back to London in November 2015. Steve flirted with the idea before turning down the opportunity. The Royals support weren’t convinced by their gaffer talking to Fulham and after a run of poor results, Clarke once again received his marching orders.

I think Clarke has been a bit unlucky when he’s managed clubs. The fifty-four year old has a great coaching pedigree and has been affected by circumstances rather than anything else.

To be honest, I’d have loved Clarke to be in the running for the Scotland job or at least brought in to be part of the coaching team. He is well disciplined and gets teams to play with a good structure.

Kilmarnock now have a boss with experience and a great CV. They seem to have a boss determined to see the club progress:

“I’m looking forward to working with the board, staff, players and supporters to ensure future success at the club.”

Clarke has experience working with top youngsters down south. That should be a great thing for the Ayrshire club as they have some terrific talented young Scottish players in their squad. These gifted youthful stars need game time, a guiding hand to teach them and to be allowed time to flourish. Hopefully the likes of Adam Frizzell, Greg Kiltie, Greg Taylor and Calum Waters will continue to develop working with their new manager giving them a chance.

The mix of young and old in the squad will hopefully benefit Steve as he looks to guide the side away from the relegation zone.

The Scottish game is bringing people like Clarke and Owen Coyle back to our top flight and I think that’s another sign that our league is on the up. People will state that they failed in England but I think that’s unfair, especially in Clarke’s case. I also think Coyle might get positive results at Ross County.

Interim boss Paul McDonald stated that the new gaffer had an immediate impact as he watched Killie beat Partick Thistle last weekend:

“The new manager gave the players a pep talk before the game at our pre-match meal and it worked wonders.”

It’s always hard to to get rid of a manager but at least Kilmarnock have been ambitious in getting in a high quality replacement, one that might just bring some much needed fresh air and he could even improve the calibre of the Scottish game.

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