Chris Marsh: Darrell Clarke knows what he’s got himself into at Walsall
A new era has begun following the appointment of Darrell Clarke as Walsall’s new manager.
And I’ve got to admit I’ve liked what I’ve seen and heard from the new boss so far.
I thought his first press conference was very interesting. He used the word ‘rebuild’ a lot. And that says to me he is under no illusions as to what a huge job he has.
As we all know, Walsall now have 19 players out of contract. At the time of writing, we are still waiting for the released and retained list.
But I can’t see many players being kept on.
It means Clarke has a lot to do this summer – he is going to have to make a lot of signings. The reality though is he is actually in quite a fortunate position.
He can wield the axe and go after the players he wants.
He may have to have some difficult conversations when it comes to letting people go.
But that’s football, it’s a cut-throat business and the out-of-contract players will be half expecting it.
Clarke will be aware of most of them because he’s faced them while he was in charge of Bristol Rovers.
He won’t know them that well though.
And that allows him to say: ‘I’m sorry, I’ve got my own man for your position and I’m going to have to let you go’.
It’s a touch frustrating because Dean Keates should have been given the same opportunity.
The truth is he inherited too many players who were under contract. They weren’t his players – but he was stuck with them. And in the end that played a huge part in him losing his job.
Keates’ misfortune is Clarke’s gain though.
And I found it fascinating hearing him talk about the rebuild he undertook at Bristol Rovers.
After they were relegated to the National League, he completely transformed the squad. And not only did they go on to win promotion, they did it the following year as well to earn a place in League One.
Clarke isn’t a rookie. He has been there and done it.
And hopefully now he will do the same for us.
From what I’ve seen, fans are already happy with his arrival.
And I think – while last year’s relegation was tough to take – it’s time we all now started afresh.
We all now need to get behind Clarke and start pulling in the same direction.
League Two is not an easy division to get out of.
I’ve been down there and I can tell you it is tough.
There will be very little separating the teams.
And there will be a lot of sides that are very direct and very physical.
But we want to be up there. We need to have a strong campaign next year because the fans deserve it.
They don’t deserve another campaign of mid-table mediocrity or – even worse – a season of struggle.
I’m sure we will do well with Clarke at the helm.
But let’s do our bit by backing the new lads.
With so many players set to arrive they will need to gel quickly. But with everyone singing off the same hymn sheet, hopefully next season will be a lot more enjoyable.