In what has been something of a traumatic week for the Whites both on and off the pitch, Lee Clark has been quietly getting on with the job, keeping his own and his team mates’ feet on the ground, and concentrating on getting things right for the upcoming trip to Tottenham.
Media reports after the Everton game on Saturday suggested that Fulham were on the end of a right hammering, and while a scoreline of 3-0 down at half time makes that difficult to deny, the reality was that the main difference between the two teams was that Fulham had some bad moments at the back and Everton didn’t.
Despite being desperately upset by the result, Clark was quick to contend that it wasn’t all negative.
“Any defeat is hard to take,” he said. “But we were very disappointed to lose this one. We felt that we could go there and get a positive result that would have allowed us to carry on from the opening day win. But with us being three goals down after half an hour we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
“Our overall performance improved dramatically in the second half, and even though we conceded a lot of goals early on, we were still creating chances. We lost the game 3-1, but in the second half we showed good spirit and determination.
“If you look at the stats we dominated the game, but Everton dominated where it matters. They defended better than us and were more clinical in front of goal – and that’s what wins you games at the end of the day. When we had the ball there were a lot of positive aspects to take out of the game, but obviously there are a lot of things we need to work on when we don’t have possession.”
It’s that determination to put things right that is dominating training this week. The squad are not being allowed to take their eyes off the ball just because of the controversy over the on-off moves of a couple of players.
“The manager and his staff have pointed out the things that we’ve got to do,” Clark said, “And we are working very hard to get them right.
“They are minor things, but at the top level minor things cost you goals and that’s what happened to us on Saturday.
“We had a bad away record last season, but that’s history now. Everything’s changed at the club: we’ve got new ideas and a very good team spirit, and that really was another reason why we were disappointed – we’ve got that togetherness now and we all really felt the defeat.”
Newcastle’s involvement in the Champions League this week meant that the Whites were denied an early opportunity to get that defeat out of their system. Clark is champing at the bit to get at Spurs on Saturday, but despite doing well against them last season, he knows it’s not going to be easy.
“They’re a very good technical and passing team,” he said. “Their players follow the Tottenham tradition and can cause problems all over the pitch, so we’re expecting a very tough match. They had a good result at home last Saturday, so we know it’s going to be a difficult game against a team that likes to pass the ball.”