Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke spoke to the local media ahead of Saturday’s League Two game at home to Barrow. Asking the questions, in this order, were BBC Radio Stoke’s Phil Bowers, George Andrews of HitMix Radio and Mike Baggaley of the Sentinel and StokeonTrentLive.
WEVE SPOKEN TO NATHAN SMITH WHO HAS TALKED ABOUT THE NEED TO RESET AND KEEP GOING. HAS THAT BEEN THE KEY THING THIS WEEK (after the 4-3 defeat at Sutton).
Darrell Clarke: “Yes, there is a consistency about our work that I have stressed all along. We look back on a game, what we did good and bad, what we could have done a lot better. But I genuinely think if you played that game nine times out of ten you win it, so, I am not going to be too critical of everybody and we move on.”
YOU SAID WHEN YOU WERE ON THE WINNING STREAK THAT IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO GET CARRIED AWAY BUT I SUPPOSE IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO GET TOO DOWN AFTER DEFEATS AS WELL?
“No, but it is also important to ‘feel the pain’. As I said after the game, we had won our last two games in injury time and sometimes there is a bit of karma, a bit of medicine to take. That is what we have done while looking back at where we could have done a lot better. But we played some cracking football at times and scored some good goals, then it is about the response at 3pm on Saturday.”
SO, IT’S ABOUT ASSESSING THINGS. WHAT DID YOU SEE THERE THAT YOU FEEL YOU CAN IMPROVE?
“It’s quite simple, we didn’t defend the ball in our box enough. I was disappointed we had to bring ‘Proc’ (Jamie Proctor) off with an injury, that might have helped that.
“I think we have defended our box particularly well in a lot of games this season. On this occasion, we didn’t, but they have scored with a deflection, there was an own goal, it was (should have been) our throw in leading to that. I think it was a foul when they threw the ball and their lad backed into Smithy.
“So, while also analysing that we have to do better with the balls that are coming in our box, on another day those decisions would go in our favour. So, I try not to over-analyse it. I still believe having watched the game back, that we would win that game nine times out of ten.”
HAS JAMIE PROCTOR BECOME INTEGRAL TO THE WAY YOU PLAY. HOW IMPORTANT A PLAYER IS HE TO YOU?
“They all are. Not just Jamie Proctor. I keep saying this to you. It’s great that Jamie is getting the plaudits. He has started his career at Port Vale excellently, which is great. He is a great lad and a model pro, we knew what we were bringing into the building.
“He hasn’t had that great a goalscoring record over the last few years. But I have discussed before that we try to bring in players that have the potential to score 20 goals. He is one of them, (James) Wilson is one of them, Devante Rodney is one of those.
“So, he has started really well but there are a lot of players doing some great work. James Wilson has been outstanding. He (Proctor) has some good technical players and they are getting deliveries into the box to suit his game as well.
“Jamie would be the first one to say we are a team, we are a collective effort as a squad but, rightly so, he is getting the plaudits he deserves.”
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING THE PLAYERS TO STEP UP, PLAYERS WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE RESERVE GAMES AND DOING WELL, HOW EASY OR DIFFICULT IS IT TO THEN INTEGRATE THEM WHEN YOU HAVE HAD A DEFEAT AND MIGHT NEED TO DISAPPOINT SOME LADS WHO HAVE BEEN DOING WELL?
“That is football management isn’t it? Like I said to the whole group, we win together as a group and we lose together as a group. That is what we do.
“We had another reserve game in midweek (at home to Leicester) so keeping the match minutes up. We have a bit of injuries in the camp which can happen, contact injuries which you can’t do anything about as a manager.
“But that is why we have these games. That is why it is about players, when they come in, can they take that opportunity. There might be one or two looking to take that opportunity on Saturday.”
ON THE BACK OF A DEFEAT, IS IT THE NATURAL THING TO MAKE CHANGES OR DO YOU TAKE THE GAME IN ISOLATION?
“The team has been picked for different reasons over the course of those winning games. But just because we were on that winning run doesn’t mean the team was never going to change after winning games and would be same team.
“Likewise, when we lose a game. The proof will be in the pudding on Saturday of what we think is the best to try to beat Barrow, then we move straight on Tuesday night’s game (at Mansfield). That’s how it’s worked on. As it happens, over the course of the last four games the team has been pretty consistent and performances have been very good.
“You can win a game by not playing well. Does that mean you don’t change it? You still look to change it potentially because it is on performance. As it happens in the run, I thought performances have been very good.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT JAMIE PROCTOR COMING OFF AND SAID LEON LEGGE HAS HAD THE BRACE OFF HIS KNEE. HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?
“Leggey is progressing nicely. We’ll see how Jamie is for the weekend.”
BARROW COME HERE ON THE BACK OF A COUPLE OF DECENT AWAY RESULTS AND, FROM WHAT I HAVE READ, TRY TO SET THEMSELVES UP NOT TO CONCEDE. HOW DOES THAT PLAY INTO THE WAY YOU PREPARE?
“I think you have read wrong to be honest with you. From watching the games back, they have fluidity in attack. Coops (Mark Cooper) is a fantastic manager at this level and knows what the league is all about. They will be a threat.
“They have had some good runs, the league is very tight, and I expect it to be typical tough League Two encounter”.
YOU KNOW (Barrow striker) JOSH GORDON WELL FROM HIS TIME AT WALSALL. DOES THAT HELP YOU PREPARE?
“Josh’s game hasn’t really changed over the last two or three years. He is a hardworking centre forward. He works very hard for the team and is a great lad. He is one of many players at Barrow that we need to be wary of but I am sure they are saying the same thing about us. They will be respectful of us and hopefully it sets up to be a good game.”
HOW PLEASED ARE YOU WITH THE DEPTH IN YOUR SQUAD NOW?
“We have had 25 per cent of the season, that’s all that’s gone, and we are the fourth best team in League Two. It’s about building the squad, developing the squad and coming back after setbacks.
“It’s a long old season. We are early days into it. The league is very competitive and we are going to be utilising the whole squad over the course of it.”
BUT YOU KNOW YOU HAVE PLAYERS IN YOUR SQUAD THAT CAN COME IN AND FILL THOSE GAPS IF NEEDED?
“Any manager up and down the country would tell you they have got to have good options that are fit and available, and have been working hard in training, so they can come in and don’t look out place. That is massive at professional levels and we have got that.”
CONTINUITY IS SOMETHING YOU’LL WANT BUT YOU’LL ALSO LOOK AT THE OPPOSITION WHEN YOU ARE SELECTING YOUR TEAM, IRRESPECTIVE OF YOUR LAST PERFORMANCE?
“But performances in the four wins were pretty consistent weren’t they? I think most of our supporters, myself and my staff would agree the performances were consistent.
“Actually, Sutton was one of the better performances including the four we actually won. It is always judged on performance. You can lose a game of football when it is just not your day.
“That can happen and I think that happened on Saturday if I am honest with you. I think there are a lot of things that went against us, that little rub of the green was nowhere to be seen on the day. But we’ll take our medicine from that.
“People say ‘tinkering’ and whatnot, but the team hasn’t needed to change because the performances have been consistent.”
DID THE PHYSICALITY OF SUTTON SURPRISE YOU, YOU WERE PROBABLY AWARE OF IT, WHEREAS BARROW…..
“George, you know I would have been well aware of what Sutton were about. We knew they are physical, they are very good, they have a fantastic home record. They are a tough old team to play against and you have to respect Sutton. They have come up, had a consistent squad now for a couple of seasons and they are very good at what they do.
“As it happened, in that particular game, we didn’t defend what they are good at.”
There’s a quick and easy way to stay on top of all the Port Vale news with our newsletter.
Delivered straight into your email inbox, the bulletins will feature the latest Vale news, views, gossip and opinion.
All you have to do is click here and punch in your email
And what’s more, it’s absolutely free!
BUT BARROW, WITH A SMALLER STRIKEFORCE, SO YOU APPROACH THE GAME DIFFERENTLY WITH YOUR DEFENCE?
“Every time we analyse what (the opposition) are good at or not good at. Barrow are no different.”
WHAT DID YOU GET OUT OF THAT RESERVE GAME AGAINST LEICESTER, DARRELL?
“It was another good workout. A 1-0 victory against a youthful, exuberant, great-for-fitness-levels, Leicester team. The fitness levels of the team were good.
“It (reserve friendlies) are something we are going to try to continue. It gets harder in the winter months. We have had four reserve games now as well as the Trophy games where one or two lads are getting minutes.
“So, you like to think, over the grand scheme of things, players are getting the match minutes they need.”
HOW IS AARON MARTIN? (he made his comeback from a back injury by playing in the reserves against Leicester)
“Yes he played 45 minutes, fantastic, no problems, so he is available for selection on Saturday.”
AND ALEX HURST CAME OFF INJURED?
“Hursty took a whack on his ankle so we’ll assess that.”