Peltier will give warm welcome as 
Clark calls in at Leeds

LEE PELTIER’S two years playing under Lee Clark at Huddersfield Town did not bring the promotion that both men craved.

Leeds Utd 's Lee Peltier

Back-to-back play-off defeats saw to that, with the Terriers bowing out in the League One semi-finals in 2009-10 and then at Old Trafford in the final a year later.

Despite that double disappointment, Peltier, who will tomorrow be reunited with his former manager as Leeds United take on Birmingham City in front of the live Sky cameras, is in no doubt as to the debt Huddersfield owe to his old chief.

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“It was unfortunate that Huddersfield didn’t win promotion under Lee,” says the United full-back speaking to the Yorkshire Post about his two years in Huddersfield.

“We just couldn’t take that next step, but I believe Huddersfield owe a lot to Lee.

“I know they got promoted a couple of months after Lee left under another manager (Simon Grayson led Town up via the play-offs in 2012). But it was Lee’s team and I believe it was him who played a big part in getting them up.

“Lee changed the whole club round, and how people thought about it. He signed a lot of good players and brought a momentum to Huddersfield that I believe you can still see in the club today. He made it a special club to play for.

“Huddersfield might not have won promotion under Lee but he did take them to the next level.”

The Terriers may have been Clark’s first senior job in football but his preparation for the move into management began as a teenager.

After helping set up a new club called Walker Central in his old neighbourhood in the East End of Newcastle, Clark, by then playing in Division One with the Magpies, would spend Thursday nights coaching the team. For nigh on four years, Walker rarely lost a game.

Later, as the curtain was beginning to come down on his playing career, Clark took on coaching roles with both Newcastle and Norwich City before answering the call to take charge of Huddersfield in December, 2008.

Peltier, who joined the Terriers from Yeovil the following summer, recalls: “Lee is lively and really passionate about his football. You don’t realise how passionate he is until you play under him.

“If we lost a match at Huddersfield, he would go home and watch the DVD. He’d not sleep and instead spend time working out how he could make the team better and ensure there was no repeat of that loss.That says a lot about his professionalism.

“A real perfectionist. He was the same as a player, from what people have told me, and he took that into management.

“I liked him from the start. When Huddersfield first came in for me, Lee explained what he wanted from me and how he wanted to play football.

“Lee made it clear how he liked a full-back to attack and that was just what I wanted to hear. He also said how we would be going to go for promotion and how he was determined to bring some real quality to the club.

“Everything he said was true. We signed some very good players and were very unfortunate not to win promotion, losing like we did twice in the play-offs.”

Asked which hurt the most, the 2010 play-off semi-final defeat to Millwall or the following year’s final loss against Peterborough United at Old Trafford, Peltier said: “I’m not sure. At the time, both experiences were horrible.

“In the long run, though, it probably did us all good. In that first year we simply got bullied at Millwall. We were a young team and didn’t have an answer.

“Then, against Peterborough, we just didn’t perform. Days like that sometimes happen, you just have to get on with it. On a personal level, Old Trafford was so disappointing as I knew I’d probably have to move on.

“You get to the point where you have to think about looking after yourself. Lee appreciated that, which, again, says a lot about him.

“Lee didn’t tell me to leave or anything like that, but he told me that he fully understood my decision and wouldn’t stand in my way.

“Players appreciate honesty like that. We’d lost in the play-offs two years on the spin and the time had come to move on.”

Peltier did, indeed, move on that summer, to Leicester City in a £750,000 deal. Also leaving the Terriers during the same close season was Anthony Pilkington, who joined Norwich City in a £2m transfer.

Within six months, Clark was also on his way out of Huddersfield after a 
St Valentine’s Day defeat at home to Sheffield United persuaded chairman Dean Hoyle that a change was needed. Grayson was subsequently appointed and in May, 2012, the Terriers beat the Blades at Wembley to clinch a return to the Championship.

Peltier, who joined Leeds a few weeks after Town’s play-off triumph, said: “I was surprised when Huddersfield got rid of Lee. They were near the top of League One at the time.

“He was doing a good job, not just in the league but also the players he had helped develop. Lads like Pilks, Jordan Rhodes and so on left for big fees.

“As sad as I was for Lee, I also knew he would soon be back in management. He just loves his football, there is no doubt about that. So it was good to see him get a big job like Birmingham.”

Clark’s impressive record against Leeds was maintained last season when in charge of the Blues, who took six points off the West Yorkshire club in the Championship. City also drew 1-1 at Elland Road in the FA Cup before United earned a fourth-round tie at home to Tottenham Hotspur with an unexpected 2-1 win at St Andrews.

Peltier added: “I think he is doing a good job, particularly in the circumstances with the resources and financial backing that Birmingham have. It doesn’t seem to be easy.

“But Lee is giving it a good go. He has brought some good, young lads through. He is doing a good job, considering the resources and financial backing he has got there.

“We still have a chat today or he will send me a text, asking how the family are. He is that sort of guy and I know for a fact he does that with a few of the old Huddersfield lads, such as Pilks.

“Always asking after their families and things like that.”