Manager keen to see his side get back to their best on Boxing Day when the Vale host Morecambe at Vale Park.
- Darrell Clarke | “Focus is on getting back to high performance levels we have set”
- Port Vale manager looks ahead to his side’s Boxing Day League One clash with Morecambe at Vale Park
- Clarke: “We will have bumps in the road along – that’s football – but we want to keep moving it forward. I always want more but we can look forward to a really good challenge in the second half of the season to maintain and push on.”
Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke says the focus for his players will be on hitting their high performance levels once again following disappointing performances and results at Bristol Rovers and Salford City in the Vale’s last two fixtures.
Speaking to the press on Friday morning ahead of the Vale’s Boxing Day clash with Morecambe, manager Clarke said:
“[We have] three important games in a short space of time, starting with Morecambe on Boxing Day. [There are] nine points up for grabs, the games will fly by with three in seven days, so we are looking forward to the challenges.
“Myself and the staff are busy preparing, prepping and keeping the focus on what it needs to be and making sure that we are as well conditioned and prepared as possible, but also putting behind us a couple of below par performances.
“Our last two performances haven’t hit the standards that we expect - and the group expects – so first and foremost it is trying to get back to a better performance, starting on Boxing Day.”
As the Vale approach the halfway mark in their League One fixture programme and their final home game of 2022, Clarke was asked for his assessment of how his side have adapted on their return to the third tier and what he has made of the division generally.
“12 months is a long time in football; we are more than a football team, we do a hell of a lot of work in the community through the Foundation, it has been a really positive year and we want to keep moving that forward,” Clarke said.
“We will have bumps in the road along – that’s football – but we want to keep moving it forward. I always want more but we can look forward to a really good challenge in the second half of the season to maintain and push on.
“[We are] continuously trying to better ourselves on the training pitch – that is where the hard work is – trying to improve individuals and the group, and just keep driving it forward.
“I think [League One] is very competitive; there are big guns in the division that are a fair bit ahead of others, but I think we have shown we can compete against those teams.
“There are no easy games – it’s an old cliché – but they’re all committed and the league is very tight. You can be a few points from the top six but you’re also a few points from the bottom four so we have to keep working that consistent level and keep trying to improve.”
Boxing Day’s visitors Morecambe head to Vale Park with only two wins in their last 13 League One fixtures, though Derek Adams’ side have only failed to score in one of those games, with all-but-one of their six defeats in that period coming by a single goal.
And Clarke acknowledges his side will be in for a strong battle if they’re to get back to winning ways.
“They have had a really tough first half of the season but Derek is a very talented manager and I have never come up against a Derek Adams team that isn’t fighting very hard, so we don’t expect an easy game whatsoever,” Clarke explained.
“They have some good players that can hurt you, so we have to be full professional about our business and get back to what we are good at because certainly the last two displays have been below par.
“Morecambe got after Plymouth with a high press and they have different methods of the way they go about it, they use different formations and it will be very difficult to work out what they are going to do against us because they are flexible.
“The main thing for us is getting back to the performance levels I expect, the group is very keen to do that and that is what we will be looking to do.”