Man­agers turn up heat in row over in­jury to Waghorn

Clark and War­bur­ton at odds over pitch

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - NEIL CAMERON

THE row over Kil­marnock’s ar­ti­fi­cial sur­face es­ca­lated last night af­ter Mark War­bur­ton blamed it for the knee in­jury which may have ended Mar­tyn Waghorn’s sea­son.

But Lee Clark, the re­cently in­stalled man­ager at Rugby Park, was adamant play­ing on this pitch was not dan­ger­ous, a point backed up by the fact that ev­ery Bar­clays Premier League club has to have them at their acad­e­mies.

War­bur­ton, who or­di­nar­ily is re­luc­tant to make any sort of pub­lic crit­i­cism, clearly made the point that Waghorn, Rangers’ lead­ing goalscorer this sea­son, would not be out for so long had Tues­day night’s Scot­tish Cup tie in Ayr­shire been played on grass.

“We’re quite adamant as a club, from our med­i­cal depart­ment and from our­selves as coaches re­view­ing the in­jury, that the na­ture of Mar­tyn’s in­jury would not be the same if he’d been play­ing on grass,” said War­bur­ton.

“It’s as sim­ple as that. Our player came off that pitch with lac­er­a­tions and bruis­ing. Im­me­di­ately we com­pared it to how it would look if you’d fallen over in the play­ground; that’s how it looked.

“He had blood, bruis­ing and then the scan shows any prob­lems in­side the knee. There is no doubt in our mind, there is no blame at­tached, we are just mak­ing the point, the na­ture of the sur­face changed the type of in­jury our player suf­fered. That’s our opin­ion and you won’t change it.

“I can’t pos­si­bly an­swer how long he’d have been had the in­jury been picked up on grass. But you im­me­di­ately saw bruis­ing and lac­er­a­tions on his knee, that wouldn’t have hap­pened on grass.”

For his part, Clark, who en­joys a good re­la­tion­ship with the Rangers man­ager, but could not agree that the as­tro­turf pitches of to­day cause in­juries to play­ers.

“In­juries hap­pen in foot­ball matches whether we play on top qual­ity 3G syn­thetic pitches or grass; that’s the na­ture of the game,” said the new Kil­marnock man­ager.

“We are com­pli­ant with all the rules and reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the stan­dard. Down south, to get your cat­e­gory one and cat­e­gory two academy sta­tus, you have to have one of th­ese sur­faces and that’s for some of the best young play­ers in the world.

“Even the big­gest clubs have to have the sur­faces for the young play­ers to train on, so if they were that dan­ger­ous they would not put them in that sort of en­vi­ron­ment.

“My young­ster [his son Bobby] at New­cas­tle United, who is in the academy, trains on it four times a week and if they were that dan­ger­ous then I’m not sure they would be putting young lives and ca­reers in jeop­ardy.”

How­ever, War­bur­ton was adamant and claimed to have the sta­tis­tics to back up his view.

He said: “There was a re­cent PFA sur­vey, in­ter­view­ing some­thing like 705

FOOT­BALLERS are crea­tures of habit and at­tempt­ing to change their nat­u­ral be­hav­iour can end in disas­ter.

But when you are Lee Clark, an English­man abroad as it were, given just 13 games to keep a strug­gling Kil­marnock team in the Lad­brokes SPFL Premier­ship, try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent is a hell of a lot bet­ter than con­tin­u­ing with what clearly was not work­ing.

Train­ing times, how the dress­ing room looks, when the play­ers get up in the morn­ing. All of this has been looked at by the new man­ager who to­day takes charge of his first game, a home match against Dundee.

“It has been hec­tic,” ad­mit­ted Clark. “There are not enough hours in the day to im­ple­ment all the changes I want in terms of how we do things, train­ing, sched­ules, things I want to change around the build­ing such as the dress­ing room and cor­ri­dors.

“It’s just putting stuff up in the dress­ing room; pho­to­graphs of cur­rent play­ers who have been do­ing well and past suc­cess sto­ries plus in­spi­ra­tional quotes from top ath­letes.

“It all comes un­der the one um­brella. You’ve got to look at all the dif­fer­ent sports and sports­men to find out how they be­came the best in their field as in­di­vid­u­als or as a team.

“From now on we will train chrono­log­i­cally, which means that we will train at the same time as the kick-off of our next game. We’ve al­ready started do­ing that, with 3pm ses­sions for Satur­day games and 7.45pm for mid­week matches so that the play­ers’ body clocks are in tune.

“When there are no mid­week games there will be dou­ble ses­sions. Strength and con­di­tion­ing train­ing – along with pre­hab and re­hab work – will now be com­pul­sory.

“Tues­days and Wed­nes­days will be in­ten­sive and we’ll ta­per down on Thurs­days and Fri­days so that they’ll be like caged an­i­mals by the time we get to three o’clock on a Satur­day.”

Caged is a lot bet­ter than be­ing wounded, which is what the Kil­marnock play­ers have played like this sea­son. Clark is a mix­ture of old and new school, no bad com­bi­na­tion, and this way of think­ing was in­spired by a for­mer man­ager known for think­ing out­side the box.

Clark said: “I worked that way when I played un­der Jean Ti­gana at Ful­ham and it made a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to our per­for­mances.

“Our fit­ness lev­els be­came higher and there was a great ben­e­fit all round. We be­came suc­cess­ful very quickly un­der him. Be­ing al­lowed to do that was one of the big things for me when I took this job.

“The play­ers won’t have ex­pe­ri­enced this be­fore. Some of the younger ones will have been stay­ing up too late so the new sys­tem will give them the chance to get the re­quired amount of sleep.”

Clark was a spec­ta­tor on Tues­day night when his new team lost to Rangers in the Scot­tish Cup, a de­feat which in truth meant lit­tle to a club who are try­ing to avoid rel­e­ga­tion.

The for­mer New­cas­tle United man be­lieves he has some­thing to work with and a few things to work on.

“They played with con­fi­dence and per­son­al­ity,” said Clark. “They played with a lot of free­dom and worked hard even when they were tired. Fa­tigue set in so that’s one area we will be look­ing to im­prove.

“But if they can last the 90 or 95 min­utes then we have a good chance of win­ning plenty games.

“You have to watch putting your­self in jeop­ardy by pick­ing up in­juries be­cause you have pushed them too hard and, cer­tainly, we need them fresh for the games.

“I have spo­ken to play­ers, briefly, af­ter Tues­day’s game. I am get­ting a lot of feed­back from the staff which is go­ing to be cru­cial for us.”

And, of course, we soon re­turn to the Rugby Park pitch, which seems to be the big­gest talk­ing point Scot­tish foot­ball has right now.

Not that Clark is in­ter­ested in such de­bate and, in­deed, he made the point Kil­marnock’s home form has been so poor that it’s hardly the case that they have been handed any sort of ad­van­tage.

“There are prob­lems,” he said. “That is why we are in this po­si­tion. I think it’s eas­ier to play on. It didn’t af­fect the play­ers’ per­for­mance for 65 min­utes on Tues­day night.

“I was im­pressed. They just tired a lit­tle bit to­wards the end and Rangers turned the screw a bit. So I don’t think we are here to make ex­cuses. We train on it ev­ery day and you get to know about the sur­face.”

SEA­SON’S END? Mar­tyn Waghorn holds his knee dur­ing Rangers’ Scot­tish Cup win over Kil­marnock

Pic­ture: SNS

FRENCH STYLE: Clark says he has im­ple­mented some of Jean Ti­gana’s meth­ods at Rugby Park.

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