Manager says challenging run of results are part and parcel of learning process as we continue to build following last season’s promotion.
- Darrell Clarke | “We have to not get frustrated and remain confident in the work we are trying to do”
- Port Vale manager speaks to the press ahead of Saturday’s trip to Shrewsbury Town, another sold out away end and the availability of his strikers
- Clarke: “You learn along the way; you have an understanding of where we need to be going to and how we are going to get there. It is about doing it right, definitely, we have to do that and make sure that every pound we spend is spent on the right thing and keep trying to consistently improve.”
Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke says calm heads are required as the Vale look to end a five-match winless run in League One.
Clarke’s side head to the division’s in-form side in Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, with Salop winning each of their last five matches.
However, Clarke says the Shropshire side are evidence of the competitive nature of the division.
“We have been competitive and I think we have had some really positive results [this season]; Plymouth and Derby away stick out, but we have a lot of work to do as a football club to try and compete at the top end of this division,” Clarke explained. “You learn along the way, we have an understanding of where we need to be going to and how we are going to get there.
“It is about doing it right - we have to do that - and make sure that every pound we spend is spent on the right thing and we keep trying to consistently improve.
“Frustrating periods like the one we are having now are part and parcel of that, but hopefully with one or two players coming back, getting some training and match minutes, we are going to be a lot more competitive with the teams we are able to pick, getting one or two of our big players back is a massive plus, but we still realise that we have a lot of work to do to try and reach the top of this division.
“We have come such a long way; I have had runs like this as a manager – both winning and without winning – but I stick consistently with my work and my staff. We always reset after every game and certainly some of those performances in this run – Derby springs to mind and the frustration of Tuesday night when we deserved to win the game against Accrington – give you context that there are always one or two things that come into the mix as to why we haven’t got the results we would have liked.
“Shrewsbury have won five on the spin; this division’s competitiveness shows that you can quickly go on winning and losing runs; they’re on that high of five wins on the spin after three defeats. We have played them a couple of times this season, performed very well and we are looking for a similar performance.”
Clarke also acknowledged that his side must score more goals if they are to climb the League One table, with the Vale 18th in the division on goals scored, further compounded by the fact Clarke is currently without nearly 50% of those goals due to injuries to Ellis Harrison and James Wilson.
“Ellis is getting more training minutes under his belt – which is a really positive sign,” Clarke explained. “Jamie Proctor started his first game back the other day and James Wilson is a couple of weeks away so all of a sudden our frontline will look a lot stronger with better options on the bench as well.
“We can’t use it as an excuse; we just have to perform better in the final third and finish our chances. Players have had one or two opportunities that they haven’t quite taken yet. We certainly haven’t scored enough goals this season, that has been a problem for us over a period of time, but we have created a lot of chances. We’ll keep working away and hopefully perform a lot better at the top end.
“We are pleased with our forward line on paper, so hopefully those boys get back and hit form as quickly as possible.”
Clarke also added his praise for the Vale’s away support, with more than 1,600 Valiants backing his side in Shropshire on Saturday.
“It is amazing [sold out away end]; our fans have been outstanding all season,” he continued. “They have backed us in their numbers and continue to back us, so we are hoping to put on a performance they can enjoy – hopefully a winning performance.
“As Tom Conlon said in the Fans Forum, we need our fans; the relationship between the players and the fans is very good and we want to keep building that relationship. For us to sell out our away allocation this year for the fourth time is a tremendous achievement.”