Steve Clarke hits back at ‘personal’ nature of Steven Gerrard criticism

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke. Picture: SNS
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke. Picture: SNS
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Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke was “disappointed” by the personal nature of the attacks on him by his opposite number at Rangers, Steven Gerrard.

He has launched a stout defence against accusations levelled at him by the man he coached as a player during his time with Liverpool.

This week Clarke, pictured, made reference to the SFA imposing a two-game ban on Kilmarnock winger Jordan Jones for allegedly diving in a (failed) attempt to win a penalty, comparing that incident to Rangers striker Jermain Defoe going to ground without contact being made to win the first of four penalties for his team during their 4-0 rout of St Mirren at Ibrox seven days ago.

Gerrard then claimed that Clarke was attempting to have Defoe banned for tonight’s Scottish Cup tie between the clubs at Rugby Park, adding that the latter “lacked class”.

“I was very general in the point I made and I didn’t name names,” said Clarke. “If the collateral damage from that is that I upset another manager then that has to be the way because I have to do my job professionally for Kilmarnock.

“One of the other things which upset me about what I regarded as a more personal press conference than the one I gave was the fact that he alluded to me being the only Premiership manager who didn’t go to the recent summit meeting in Perth and that that was somehow my fault. It wasn’t. I explained that I didn’t get the invitation until late on Tuesday and I’d already made plans for the Thursday.

“I accepted [SFA chief executive] Ian Maxwell’s reasoning for forgetting about us, which was a sad reason; he’d lost his father. “Anyway, I wasn’t the only manager who didn’t attend – Hamilton’s Martin Canning, who has unfortunately lost his job since then, wasn’t there either,

“So for Steven to try to say that they’d agreed at that meeting to try to show more respect to referees didn’t make any sense because I wasn’t at the meeting and wouldn’t have known about that and why would he try to isolate me? I was disappointed with that.

“There was no need to make it personal with all that stuff about class. I’m 55 years old and I know how to lead my life, professionally and personally. There will be someone bigger and better who will judge me at the end of my time.

“Everybody handles situations differently. I tend to handle them consistently and not make them personal. I’m always very conservative in any criticism I put out. I try to fight my corner for this football club because that’s what I’m paid to do. If I can look at my players in the eye and say: ‘I’m standing up for you guys the best I can’ then I’m doing my job.”