West Ham’s assistant manager Steve Clarke has spoken out in defence of manager Gianfranco Zola. Clarke claims that the blame for West Ham’s poor season should not lie with Zola, instead he has claimed that as he is the more experienced of the pair, any fingers should be pointed in his own direction. While it is refreshing change of pace to see an individual own up to his mistakes, what has Steve Clarke really achieved with his admission?
It is admirable that Clarke should own up to any mistakes he has made but when a club is struggling as West Ham are, there tend to be numerous people at fault. Clarke may have made errors but undoubtedly so has Zola; the owners, previous owners and of course the players themselves must also be held accountable for the club’s plight. Clarke’s point may have further negative repercussions for Zola; he is quoted as saying:
“I’m the guy that was brought in to help Gianfranco. He’s a novice manager, just in the game, so if anybody wants to point fingers then point them at me.”
But what does this mean? Do we then assume that West Ham’s relative success last season was also down to Clarke? It stands to reason that if he is to blame for their failures he must also be responsible for any successes. It could be a source of some embarrassment to Zola that Clarke has seen fit to shoulder the blame; Zola is officially the manager and must hold his hands up when mistakes have been made. They are in a difficult situation, lying 19th in the league with 14 points from 17 games and their plight has not been helped by a lengthy injury list culminating with the recent retirement of Dean Ashton.
Clarke may have been trying to ease the pressure on his manager, but Zola is the one who makes the final decisions, the buck stops with him in terms of managerial errors; by making these comments Clarke may have only served to undermine the Italian’s credibility.