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Clarke: we need everyone pulling in the same direction

2 August 2019

Manager Darrell Clarke says the Saddlers will need everyone pulling in the same direction to be successful this season.

The 41-year-old will take charge of his first competitive match as Walsall boss when we face Northampton Town in our League Two season opener tomorrow.

Clarke knows what it takes to prosper at this level, having led Bristol Rovers to third-place promotion in 2015/16.

And the former Mansfield midfielder says the Saddlers must be adaptable to different types of opponents and “earn the right” to win matches.

“It’s a tough league,” said Clarke. “You have got to earn every point you get. There are different games, different strengths for different teams.

“There are some technical teams, some teams that are very physical, very strong. Some are a mixture of both.

“We are under no illusions; we have to earn the right to win games and pick up points.

“I don’t want anyone telling me Walsall used to be a Championship club, or a League One club, because it’s gone.

“The quicker we get our heads around that the better. That goes for everyone, everyone in the football club, the supporters and the media.

“We are a League Two football club. And the only way you get out of League Two is by making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction.

“It’s been a pretty positive summer, with the changes that have been made at the football club.

“We want to continue that and have a good season.”

As well as appointing a different manager, the Saddlers have assembled a new-look backroom team and brought in 14 players this summer.

And Clarke admits it may take time for things to come together.

“There have been changes in the squad and there needs to be a change of mentality at the club,” he added.

“When you have been relegated, there has been a losing mentality over the course of a 46-game season.

“We’ve got to turn that around as quickly as we possibly can. Sometimes that takes time, sometimes you start like a house on fire.

“But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

“As a manager and as a coaching staff, we have experienced bad starts and still got promoted. I have experienced decent starts and not got promoted.

“It’s about improving, developing the club and trying to get back to making sure we win football matches.”

Our first assignment of 2019/20 is a trip to Keith Curle’s Cobblers, who themselves have enjoyed a busy close season.

“Keith is a fantastic manager and has managed a lot of games now,” Clarke commented.

“They have had a lot of changes at the football club as well but they managed to get their business done a bit earlier than ourselves.

“First games are very, very strange games. Sometimes the ball becomes a bit of a hot potato.

“We will see how it goes but we are looking forward to going down there and putting on a good show.

“You can talk about preparation all you want from the pre-season games but it counts for very little come the first game of the season.”

A total of 1,425 Saddlers fans will be making the journey to the PTS Academy Stadium tomorrow. A reminder that no more tickets are available.


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