'I've had setbacks and I've made wrong decisions': Lee Clark reveals why he's taken over at Blyth Spartans after 19 months out of the game
Lee Clark's been out of the game for 19 months. That's 19 months too long for the former Newcastle United midfielder's liking.
Clark is back in football – at Blyth Spartans.
The 46-year-old – who started out in management at Huddersfield Town 11 years ago – is looking to prove himself all over again at the National League North club, which lost manager Alun Armstrong to Darlington after losing in the play-offs last month.
"You've got to prove things all the time," said Clark, who has also managed Birmingham City, Blackpool and Kilmarnock since hanging up his boots following a second spell at Newcastle in 2007.
"My ambition is to work at the highest level. Can I start rebuilding again? You have setbacks, but there have been other times where you make wrong decisions.
"Personally, I made the wrong decision when I took the Blackpool job, but quickly found out and resigned within five months. Did I leave Kilmarnock too early after changing the club around from fighting relegation to being in the top six? Probably, in hindsight, I did.
"But this gives me an opportunity to show people there's still the manager there who holds the record in the EFL for 43 games unbeaten.
"I've got to show people that that wasn't a fluke and I can do that again."
The appointment came as a surprise to Clark himself, who was impressed with the "desire" shown by the club.
"This time last week this wasn't on my mind, but I'm alway courteous to people who would like to talk to me," said Clark. "I've always been like that whether I've been playing, coaching or managing.
"I came and spoke to the club and I liked what they had to say and their ambition for the club.
"I had a couple more meetings with them, and they showed a desire that they wanted me to be their manager. I'd been out of the game too long. I enjoy being out on the grass and coaching and developing players."
Clark had had big-money offers from overseas clubs, but he was sold on a move to Blyth.
"Certainly, in the last two weeks I've had two really big overseas offers in terms of financial packages which, with respect to Blyth, they wouldn't have been able to get anywhere near," said Clark.
"But that's not my motive at the moment. It's not been my motive ever, really. It wasn't about that. It was about getting somewhere where I could get my teeth into a project and see what I could do with that project. That's what's excited me."
Clark feels he can take Blyth up to the National League. However, first things first, he must put a squad together – as Blyth don't have any players.
"The first thing is, I've got to try and assemble a squad – we haven't got any players," said Clark. "I'll have to lose a couple of stone, but I might be starting the season myself playing!
"That's the first objective – to get a squad of players ready for the season ahead.
"I had a terrific year last year – very unlucky losing the play-offs on penalties down at Altrincham. Let's see what can happen. The club has a great tradition in the FA Cup, so that's another objective, to see if we can get another cup run."