Bury have reason to be optimistic under Lee Clark

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Lee Clark and Bury ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.

Background

Lee Clark was coaxed back from the SPL in February after a 12-month stint in charge of Kilmarnock, with Bury languishing in the drop zone at the time. His arrival triggered three straight wins that ultimately propelled them to safety, although the Shakers were spared only by results elsewhere on the final day. No fewer than 14 new players have since been recruited, nearly all household names at League One level, but Clark lost his battle to hang on to 24-goal striker James Vaughan. He’s gone to Sunderland.

Personality

Work-rate is everything to Clark and that’s the message he constantly reinforces through the media. The 44-year-old Geordie is a hard taskmaster on the training ground and players are usually judged by their level of compliance. He reveres his men in post-match interviews, so long as they do as their told and run through brick walls for him without questioning his methods or complaining. It’s an approach that’s difficult to enforce and usually requires major overhaul before it’s accepted.

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Verdict

Size of budget aside, Clark has recruited an impressive list of names that should be chasing automatic with a top-six finish seen as a bare minimum. But the budget cannot be dismissed as irrelevant because it’s no secret Bury have been leaving beyond their means for the past three years. The pressure to bring Championship football to Gigg Lane is mounting and that weight of importance might just paralyse them in the moments of truth. The closer they get, the more pressure they will feel.

Prediction: play-offs

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