Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark wants to build a team that can challenge for Europe



Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark admits he wants to challenge for European football instead of fighting against relegation after making 11 new signings.

Clark, who replaced Gary Locke in February, insists he had no option but to make wholesale changes this summer after Kilmarnock supporters became used to seeing their team struggle at the wrong end of the Premiership table.

Former Birmingham and Huddersfield boss Clark preserved Killie’s top-flight status with a play-off final win over Falkirk in May but the 43-year-old wants to be chasing success further up the table after unveiling a whole new team on Friday.

leeclarkAlong with the permanent signings of Callum McFadzean, Jamie Cobain, Souleymane Couliabaly, Jordan Jones, Martin Smith and Joshua Webb, Clark has added loan recruits Flo Bajaj, Will Boyle, Jonathan Burn, Mark Waddington and Oliver Davies.

Clark, who welcomed his side back for pre-season training yesterday, said: “What’s our target? For improvement, to not be in the position we were.

“To have a better product, to improve our home form and to not be fighting a relegation battle come the end of the season.

“We believe we’ve built a squad that is capable of doing that and eventually the long term goal is to challenge to get into the top six but to also push for European positions.”

Speaking to Kilmarnock TV, he added: “Over the past three or four years the club has been fighting at the wrong end of the table and a lot of those players had been here for this period.

“When it happens over a period for a long time, it’s not a coincidence or a one-off, it means that the mentality of the club and playing staff has to change.

“We don’t want to be in that position as a club, we want to be pushing the club up high and try and achieve successful seasons.

“What I mean by that is trying to get into the top half of the table and then eventually mirroring what the likes of St Johnstone have done and get a European spot.

“I felt the characteristics of the club had to change.

“We haven’t just signed new players but we have signed good characters, people who are prepared to fight no matter what the situation is.”