Surprise sacking leaves Clark 'perplexed'

Huddersfield manager axed after brief phone call despite superb record... but supporters not shocked

Like Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson, Lee Clark had suffered just three league defeats as a manager this season prior to yesterday. Unlike that pair, Clark is out of work this morning after his sacking as Huddersfield Town manager.

The news of the dismissal of Clark and his back-room staff yesterday came as a shock to anyone who has followed the Huddersfield story from a distance: after all, it was less than three months ago, on 19 November, that the West Yorkshire club established a new Football League record of 43 matches unbeaten, surpassing the 42-game run of Brian Clough's late 1970s Nottingham Forest side.

The League One club's trajectory appeared ever upwards under Clark, 39, who was seemingly thriving in his first managerial role after assisting Glenn Roeder at Newcastle and Norwich. Appointed in December 2008, he took Huddersfield to the play-offs for the past two seasons, though there was bitter disappointment last May when they lost to Peterborough in the final. Despite Tuesday's 1-0 home loss to Sheffield United, Huddersfield remain only four points behind second-placed United.

Clark's dismissal reportedly came in a brief phone conversation with the club's owner, Dean Hoyle. Clark said: "I am very perplexed as to why I was dismissed as manager of Huddersfield. I am extremely disappointed and shocked considering that, with just 16 games left, we are in such a great position to compete for automatic promotion.

"We [created] history in the record books for consecutive unbeaten games. This was an immense achievement by everybody connected with the club."

Hoyle denied that Clark's sacking was a knee-jerk reaction to Tuesday's loss when he said: "This was a very difficult decision, one not taken lightly or in response to one result. Concerns have been raised over recent weeks."

According to Steve King, chairman of the Huddersfield Town Supporters' Association, the mood among fans is less unanimous than an outsider might expect. "I'd say it was 50-50," he said, pointing to the investment under Hoyle and a high number of draws which some feared would lead to another near miss. "We've not managed to kill teams off."

Clark, who was on Leicester City's radar before the appointment of Nigel Pearson, has already been linked with the vacant Leeds manager's job. He told The Independent last May how even as a young player he would watch how his managers "would react to different scenarios". Yesterday provided the ultimate scenario, but his star will surely rise again.

Thanks for nothing: Other unjust exits

Chris Hughton Newcastle were 11th in the Premier League when he was sacked by Mike Ashley in 2010. He helped the club to promotion at first attempt, and over saw a 5-1 thrashing of Sunderland.

Vicente del Bosque Led Real Madrid to two Champions Leagues and two titles in four sea-sons; sacked day after 2003 title win.

Jose Mourinho Back-to-back Premier League titles, plus one FA Cup and two League Cups not enough for Roman Abram-ovich. Replaced by Avram Grant months after winning 2007 FA Cup.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'