Manager says the Vale continue to learn about League One and how each player is adapting to the level as the Vale prepare for trip to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
- Darrell Clarke | “We are always learning”
- Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke says the Valiants will always be learning about the level in first season after promotion from League Two
- Clarke: “The league is the toughest it has been for a period of time with the sides that are in it. We are competitive, we are frustrated by our recent form and frustrated that we didn’t build on the win on Saturday with a win on Tuesday night.”
Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke says the Valiants will continue to learn about themselves and the division as we head into the final quarter of the League One season on our first season in the third tier in six years.
Speaking to the local media ahead of Saturday’s trip to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers, Clarke said:
“We sit here on 40 points with 13 games to go, which is a good achievement, albeit we are not happy with our current form. We have 13 opportunities for players to show me what they have got between now and the end of the season to finish as high as we can.
“I always want more, but I am realistic and I think out of the last three years from the teams promoted via the Play-Offs, one finished 19th in their first season and the other two were relegated, so we are doing better but we have still got a quarter of the season to go and we want to finish as best as we possibly can and work on all areas of our game to finish as high up in the league as possible.
“You are always learning; we have learnt plenty about the division this season and what we need moving forward. There are still questions to be answered by some players and how they perform at this level to try and hit the levels that we need to hit to get to the higher reaches of this league.
“It is very difficult, though, we talk about Bolton who we play on Saturday and they have spent nearly £1million on their strike-force. The league is the toughest it has been for a period of time with the sides that are in it.
“We are competitive, we are frustrated by our recent form and frustrated that we didn’t build on the win on Saturday with a win on Tuesday night.”
While acknowledging the task ahead of his side when they travel to the University of Bolton Stadium, where the hosts haven’t lost a league game since October, Clarke said his side will take spirit from the wins at Derby County and Plymouth Argyle earlier this campaign.
“The top teams have the whole skillset; physicality, pace, strength, strength in depth and that’s because their budgets allow that, that’s football,” Clarke added. “We have to try to reach those levels in different ways, we have to as a football club and they have to try and get out of the division because they are Bolton, a Premier League team a few years ago.
“Sometimes the underdog does win and we have shown at Plymouth and Derby this season that we can put in good performances on the road against top teams and we will try and do exactly the same tomorrow. We can take confidence from those wins and know that we have achieved it before, so why can’t we achieve it again. We will go after them like we do, try to win the game, we are not there to soak up pressure, that’s for sure.
“They have been in the top six for the majority of the season; they are chasing down those automatic places and I expect them to finish in the top six. We have to concentrate on our performance, we are very aware of their strengths but also every team has a weakness as well and we will try to exploit that.
“No doubt it will be a good atmosphere, we will take plenty of fans up there and we are looking forward to it.”