Big-spenders? Not us, says Lee

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PREVIEW - By Chris Dunlavy

BURY boss Lee Clark in­sists the Shak­ers have not bro­ken the bank this sum­mer and be­lieves bud­get talk has be­come an ob­ses­sion.

Backed by am­bi­tious chair­man Ste­wart Day, Clark en­gi­neered a string of eye­catch­ing sign­ings in a bid to break into the top six.

Former Ever­ton striker Jer­maine Beck­ford ar­rived from Pre­ston, while Hud­der­s­field’s Harry Bunn pitched up at Gigg Lane af­ter re­ject­ing an of­fer from Ip­swich.

And, while Clark makes no bones about Bury’s lofty tar­gets this sea­son, he says the ‘big spenders’ tag is non­sense.

“I’ve said all along that we’re aim­ing for the play­offs,” said the former New­cas­tle mid­fielder, who or­ches­trated a last-gasp es­cape from rel­e­ga­tion af­ter tak­ing charge in Fe­bru­ary.

“Is that ar­ro­gant? Is it dis­re­spect­ful to our op­po­nents? Cer­tainly not. It’s a marker I’ve put down for the play­ers and it’s noth­ing to do with how much we’ve spent.

“It’s easy for peo­ple to look from out­side, see the cal­i­bre of play­ers we’ve signed and say ‘Oh, Bury are throw­ing silly money around’. But that’s cer­tainly not the case.

“We’ve worked hard on the deals. We’ve tried to at­tract them in other ways – the am­bi­tion of me and the chair­man, the train­ing ground. That’s a huge pulling point.

“Take the Jer­maine Beck­ford deal. Ver­bally, that took about 45 min­utes, maybe an hour. He came to the train­ing ground with his agent, had a look around. Then we agreed the fi­nan­cial side. By the time the pa­per­work was done, it was about half a day.

“You can’t tell me he didn’t have big­ger, bet­ter of­fers else­where. I know he did.

“Harry Bunn had Cham­pi­onship clubs in for him, all with greater re­sources than us. We didn’t com­pete with that, we just sold the club.

“The fact is my bud­get is lower than last sea­son. Other teams? I hon­estly couldn’t care less about them.

“Too many peo­ple in the game get com­pletely ob­sessed and bogged down in all that. They’re des­per­ate to talk about what other clubs are spend­ing, when the re­al­ity is they haven’t got a clue.

“We did our busi­ness early. We went for qual­ity over quan­tity and we’re sup­ple­ment­ing that with our own young play­ers. I couldn’t be hap­pier with what I’ve got.”

In­deed, for all the buzz around Clark’s 16 sum­mer sign­ings, it is one of those in­house young­sters who is gen­er­at­ing the big­gest buzz.

Dai Wai-Tsun is an 18-yearold mid­fielder from Hong Kong, who reg­u­larly starred for the Shak­ers’ youth team af­ter leav- ing Reading’s academy in 2016.

Handed a de­but off the bench in the open­ing day vic­tory over Wal­sall, the slightly-built teenager showed great com­po­sure, and the clam­our is grow­ing for him to start against Wi­gan today.

“Dai was al­ways on our minds last sea­son,” said Clark. “We just felt it wasn’t the right time. We were fight­ing a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle and didn’t want too many young­sters thrown into it.

“But, since we’ve come back for pre-sea­son, he’s been fan­tas­tic in ev­ery as­pect. Tech­ni­cally, he’s a very good foot­baller. He’s got ex­tremely high fit­ness lev­els.

“He was very un­lucky not to start against Wal­sall, but he came on and was great again. We be­lieve there’s a bright fu­ture ahead of him and he’s got a great de­sire to work hard and im­prove.

“Phys­i­cally, he’ll get there. That’s the easy part. The hard part is turn­ing some­one into a tech­ni­cian, and he al­ready is.”

Clark, mean­while, is an­tic­i­pat­ing a dif­fi­cult af­ter­noon against Paul Cook’s side, who followed their open­ing day vic­tory at MK Dons with a 2-1 win over Black­pool in the EFL Cup.

“Wi­gan have got lots of good play­ers,” he said. “I watched them in the cup and they changed all 11 play­ers, which shows you their strength in depth. It’ll be an ex­tremely tough match.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BIG SIGN­ING: Jer­maine Beck­ford in ac­tion for Bury against Sun­der­land in the Carabao Cup on Thurs­day night and, in­set, man­ager Lee Clark

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