Doesn’t Clarke deserve a better Chelsea send-off?
After 20 years’ loyal service most employees can expect a carriage clock or a bottle of wine. When your employer is one of the richest men in the world, and some of your colleagues earn more than 100,000 pounds a week, you might even hold out hope for a silver hip flask or even a set of golf clubs and a cheery farewell.
Steve Clarke’s reward at Chelsea is for the club to reject his resignation, after he sought to join Gianfranco Zola at West Ham.
Clarke is not a bandwagon hopper. When opposition fans taunt Chelsea supporters by singing “Where were you when you were ****?” Clarke can put his hand up and say, “Out there playing.”
He joined in 1987 and made over 400 appearances for the club as a stalwart defender. Such was his popularity with the fans, he was included in the club’s Centenary XI in 2005.
After retiring from playing he had a brief spell at Newcastle as assistant to his former Chelsea coach Ruud Gullit, before returning to west London for another decade of low-profile dedication.
Working as youth team coach, he eventually became an assistant of one sort or another to all Chelsea’s recent big-name bosses, with Luiz Felipe Scolari keeping him on board this season after saying he was an important part of the club’s history.
Happy out of the limelight he preferred to work with the players, and they enjoyed working with him.
When his old friend and playing partner Zola was appointed West Ham boss, the club approached Chelsea for permission to speak to Clarke. Chelsea refused. Clarke then resigned and Chelsea have refused to accept his resignation.
Money can help bring you trophies, as Chelsea have proved; whether it can buy you class is another matter entirely.
HAPPIER TIMES: Steve Clarke watches Chelsea training alongside then coach Jose Mourinho at the Olympic stadium in Munich, April 11, 2005. Fans may remember that tie for the case of the woolly hat. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty