By Tony Leighton
Lee Clark has no axe to grind, insists the Birmingham City manager, with his previous club Huddersfield Town, as he prepares for his first meeting with the Terriers since his February dismissal.
Clark was removed from what was his first job in management after three years in charge and having twice taken his team into the npower League 1 Play-Offs and also to a record breaking 43-match unbeaten League run.
Rather than taking a grudge into Saturday's Championship clash at St Andrew's, however, Clark says he will in fact seek out and greet the man who sacked him, Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle, who in May celebrated promotion under new manager Simon Grayson.
"I'll probably go looking for Dean to shake his hand and speak with him," said Clark. "I had a good relationship and still keep in touch with him. He's a terrific man.
"And I'll never say a bad word about that football club because they gave me my chance. I responded for them and they certainly responded for me.
"The people in the club supported me, the supporters backed me and I had a great group of players, so there's no problem on my part.
"I was very disappointed that I left the club because I was in a fantastic job and when you're in a fantastic job you don't want to leave it.
"But what happened has happened and now I'm in another fantastic job at a huge club, and with the exception of a couple of results I'm thoroughly enjoying it."
Clark's thorough enjoyment has been rudely interrupted by one result in particular, a 5-0 trouncing by Barnsley in Blues' last home match.
They have since won at Brighton and Hove Albion, who were top of the table ahead of that match, and then somewhat unluckily lost at new leaders Cardiff City.
So they have bounced back from their St Andrew's humiliation, but on their return to home soil they face a Huddersfield team that may have lost their last two home games but have been doing well on the road on their return to the Championship.
The game will have an extra edge due to Clark's relationship with the Terriers, but the Blues boss insisted: "There's no added incentive for me. It doesn't mean more to me than any other game - I want to win every single game I'm involved in.
"Any defeat hits me hard and if you lose in the manner we did against Barnsley it becomes even worse. There were no positives to take from that game, we'd hit the bottom of the barrel - but from there the only way is up and the only people who could put it right were us, and we've started to do that.
"I've been delighted with the response of the players. They've put in two very good away performances sand o we'll be very positive going into the Huddersfield game.
"But Huddersfield will be hurting after losing two in a row. Their away form's been excellent though, and Simon and his staff will have them up and ready. I know the lads in that dressing room, so we're expecting a very tough match."
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