Every word from Darrell Clarke’s Port Vale press conference ahead of Harrogate


Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke spoke to the local media ahead of this week’s game at home to Harrogate. Asking the press conference questions were Matt Sandoz of BBC Radio Stoke, George Andrews of HitMix Radio and Mike Baggaley from The Sentinel and StokeonTrentLive.

I’ll START BY PUTTING THIS ON YOU – WHAT IS THAT YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT ABOUT YOUR TEAM AT THE MOMENT? WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN FROM THE LAST SEVEN DAYS THAT YOU THINK, ACTUALLY THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT?

Darrell Clarke: “When you win a game and you have a week’s preparation for the next one it’s always a lot better, let me put it that way.

“The mood in the camp is good, positive as you would expect. I am looking forward to the enxt challenge though so a lot of work has been put on the training pitch. Each team is different, the opposition is different every time so we concentrate on their weaknesses and strengths.”

AND IT IS A BIG CHALLENGE AGAINST HARROGATE ISN’T IT? THEY’VE HAD A GOOD START TO THE SEASON.

“They have done terrifically. They have had that consistency over the last three, four, five years. Simon Weaver has done a tremendous job there.

“They don’t go off plan very often. They stick with what they are very good at, they have some good players and they have had a terrific start to the season.”

HE (Simon Weaver) HAS BEEN COMPLIMENTARY ABOUT YOU IN HIS PRE-MATCHH PRESS CONFERENCE, SAYING IT WILL BE A DIFFICULT GAME AND HE KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT AS A MANAGER. IT’S GOOD YOUR TEAM IS GETTING THAT RECOGNITION AND CARRYING A THREAT IN LEAGUE TWO.

“Yes, listen, we appreciate the kind words but Simon is a top manager in his own right as well. He has a winning formula over a consistent period of time. They started very well last season and have done this season. They have some good players but we want to focus….it is early days in the campaign, we are not even a quarter through the season yet. So, we want to focus on performances and making sure they get stronger through the course of the long campaign.

“That’s our focus, improving in all areas of our play. I am sure every manager up and down the country is saying the same thing.”

IS THAT HOME WIN JUST A MONKEY ON YOUR BACK AT THE MOMENT?

“Listen, we want to win home and away. So, yes, but focus on performance and the result takes care of itself.

“I think we are unfortunate we haven’t picked up a home win yet this season, but unfortunate doesn’t come into it, we have to make it happen.

“But, there’s a saying, ‘every day the clock resets and you go again’. We will be looking to go again and get our first home win.”

SO, OVERALL YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE PERFORMANCES? YOU’RE NOT GOING TO RIP UP THE TRAINING MANUAL FROM WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN FROM YOUR TEAM AT HOME?

“No, I think the mentality side of things comes into play. That is a big side of the game, making sure that is absolutely spot on.

“I believe we prepare our players as best we possibly can. I think they get some great information from myself and the coaching staff of how we are going to play and what the plan is.

“Then we have to do the game plan, so to speak, but mentality is key.

“We were 1-0 up against Rochdale and could have been two or three nil up in the first 20 minutes, but then the place went dead (when Rochdale scored). That’s not a dig at anybody, we have to be able to cope with that mentally as a side and understand we focus on the full 90 or 95 minute performance at home.

“If you are 1-0 down, you can win the game at home in the last ten minutes. It has happened over the years consistently. We have to make sure of the things we can control as a team out on the pitch at home, we stay strong and we try to pick up the win.”

IT MUSTN’T FEEL LIKE IT’S NOT FAR AWAY FROM THINGS CLICKING FOR YOU. YOU’VE WON AT FOTEST GREEN AND SWINDON SO MAYBE IT’S JUST ABOUT PUTTING THAT RUN TOGETHER?

“It is, but I think this league has been the same for a long time. Put two or three wins together and you are right up in the mix. I don’t see things changing this season, I think everyone is capable of beating everybody and, as you say, the key word is consistency in our performance and our focus over a long season.”

DOES CONSISTENCY FOLLOW CONFIDENCE A BIT?

“It can be a lot of things. You can be over-confident at times. We have won two of our last three, if we do that for the rest of the season I will be a happy man.

“We focus on the positives, we had a good result last week and can we put back-to-back wins together. The more support we can get to get that will be great.”

YOU’VE STARTED GAMES WELL SO IT’S ABOUT STAYING IN CHARGE OF THE GAME?

“Yes. We all want to start games well and I think in particular this season we have started games very well but it’s about winning.

“I would have been quite happy for a rubbish start against Rochdale but still won the game. These are the things you have to control. You have to control the swings and roundabouts in the game where momentum can switch.

“The mental side of the players has to be focused on the end, not getting caught in moments where something might have gone against us. Just focus and then come the end of the match let’s see how many points we have in the bag.”

AND YOU’LL HAVE TO BE SWITCHED ON AGAINST A HARROGATE SIDE WHO ARE SECOND IN THE TABLE AND WILL BE LOOKING TO PROBABLY GET AT YOU STRAIGHT AWAY?

“We are respectful of every opposition we play, but I think any team in this division is beatable. We will be focusing on our own performance.”

WHAT’S THE SITUATION WITH BRAD WALKER (he missed the Swindon game with a knee injury).

“It is stull settling down, he won’t be involved in the 18 tomorrow and we will see how things develop next week.”

AND YOUR FRIENDLY IN THE WEEK (the reserve friendly at Burnley in Tuesday which Vale won 2-0).

“It was really positive. We beat Burnley. The set up there is absolutely outstanding so I would like to thank Burnley for that.

“It was a great game and the boys energised me, there were some really good performances in there and that’s what we want, those competitive games.

“We will have another game, against Fleetwood, at the back end of this month, to make sure that players who are missing minutes are catching them up in these games. The attitude and application, with also playing some good football in a 4-4-2, was very good.”

SO PLAYERS GAVE YOU FOOD FOR THOUGHT?

“Yes, they always do. They are the demands of this club. We don’t go there for day out, we are going there to win, reserve or first team games. They know the expectations. It was a proper game, challenges flying in everywhere.

“Even their coaching staff said it was a lot better than an under-23s game because it was a proper game. My lads were fully committed and there were some good performances that makes me do a lot of thinking.”

AND IS DENNIS POLITIC ONE OF THOSE PLAYERS YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT?

“Listen, it was his first 90 minutes for I don’t know how long. Everybody gets keen, don’t they, when they see a player and want to know why he’s not playing straight away.

“But I understood that Dennis needed game minutes. He has had 90 minutes now, he has been on the bench in a lot of games and I am sure we will see more of Dennis as the season progresses.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON DEVANTE RODNEY’S THREE-MATCH BAN? (for elbowing a defender off the ball at Swindon)

“Devante has apologised. He has accepted the disciplinary action. He will be disappointed with it. He is a young lad, he will learn from it and we move on.”

YOU HAVE BEEN CLOSE TO WINNING HOME GAMES SO DOES GAME MANAGEMENT COME INTO IT? IS IT ABOUT SOMEONE ON THE PITCH TAKING RESPONSIBILITY TO CLOSE IT DOWN WHEN YOU ARE IN FRONT?

“One of the things is game management, that is a key element. But there are loads of ingredients that go into winning a game so to single one out is very difficult.

“Our game management, shall we call it, at Swindon was outstanding in the last five or ten minutes. It does have to be good in certain parts of the game as well. But we want to be on the front foot, we don’t want to be holding on at 1-0. If we are winning 1-0, we want to go and get the second and third goals, we want to seal the game.

“But there are times when the game management comes in and you have to play a little bit clever and try to run the clock down at the right times.

“The proof is always in the pudding with the end result.”

WHEN YOU SCORE THE OPENING GOAL, AS YOU HAVE DONE ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS, SOMETIMES THE FOCUS JUST DROPS MOMENTARILTY BECAUSE OF THE ENTHUSIASM AND THE LIFT OF THE CROWD, PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU ARE AT HOME. YOU CAN JUST LOSE THAT LITTLE BIT OF CONCENTRATION DARRELL CAN’T YOU?

“Well unfortunately there are two teams in a game, George, and if one team goes ahead the other team know they have to score to get in it. So, it’s not just always about why momentum changes in games is it?

“You try to control that bit the fact of the matter is, whoever you are playing at those levels of football, and even at the top level, the opposition are going to have time on the ball and territory, and you are going to have to defend. That is never going to change. It won’t be changing on Saturday, it is just making sure we handle those key moments in games where the momentum does swing one way to the other, and make sure that mentally we are prepared for that.”

WHEN THEY CROSS THE WHITE LINE YOU CAN’T DO TOO MUCH BOUT IT. YOU CAN FEED THE INFORMATION BUT IS IT STILL COMING FROM THE CAPTAIN MAYBE, OR OTHER PLAYERS.

“I have good leaders out there, a good group. Tom Conlon is a great leader.

“It is early to assess. We have lost two games this season in the league, one when we were down to ten men and then Rochdale at home. So, those sort of questions get answered over a period of time.

“I think there are all areas of our game we need to work on and improve, and the mental side of it is key if we are not winning at home, and we haven’t done yet. We’ll try to turn that around tomorrow.”



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CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE FRIENDLY AT BURNLEY AND WHO PLAYED?

“Yes. Aidan Stone in goal, Aaron Martin and Ryan Johnson at centre half, Gibbo (James Gibbons) played 45 minutes, Danny Amos played, we had Ellis (Jones, youth player) and Jake Taylor in the middle of the park and played a 4-4-2. We had Dennis Politic and David Amoo wide and Eden Bailey and George Lloyd up top.

“Alex Hurst missed the game through a family bereavement.

“We ended the game with six scholars on the pitch against a Burnley team who had two first team players.

“So, it was a really good work out for us. We played a 4-4-2 and it was nice to look at that when we had a couple of wide players in.”

SO, 4-4-2 WAS SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO LOOK AT?

“Yes, I want to be able to change. I am always looking for answers in certain things and I wanted to build a squad that is adaptable to change so we can maybe start a 4-4-2 at times if we want to, or 4-3-3 or 3-5-2, but I will also be able to have players on the bench that can hopefully change over the course of a game if we feel it’s needed.”





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