Big-spenders? Not us, says Lee
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.”
BIG SIGNING: Jermaine Beckford in action for Bury against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup on Thursday night and, inset, manager Lee Clark