Stevenage vs Walsall preview: No room for slacking off, says Darrell Clarke
Walsall manager Darrell Clarke is keeping his players on their toes as they target a good end to the season – starting with an away trip to struggling Stevenage.
League Two’s bottom club are eight points adrift from safety with 11 games remaining – as their losing run stretched to eight matches last week.
Walsall travel to the Lamex Stadium tomorrow unbeaten in four games and Clarke is eager to stave off complacency as he encourages competition within the squad.
“It depends if you’re a fraud or not as a footballer,” he said.
“If you back yourself and you’re at it every single day, you enjoy that competition that keeps you on your toes.
“If you’re a bit of a fraud who doesn’t want competition and want the easy ride, then all of a sudden it gets you a little bit edgy.
“We want to be a competitive squad where people are looking behind them knowing if they’re not at it, someone will take their place.
“I don’t think I’ve ever changed, the standards have to be high day in day out.
“It’s not just the 95 minutes that everyone gets to see on a Saturday, there’s a hell of a lot of build-up that goes towards that.
“Living life right, training right and covering the distances that need to be covered.
“Making sure they don’t slack off to give themselves the best opportunity to perform on a Saturday.”
After impressive wins against Forest Green Rovers and Northampton Town in recent weeks, Walsall looked set for a potential late play-off push.
Despite coming from behind twice to draw at home to promotion-chasing Port Vale on Saturday, Clarke insists the team still needs time to develop. “At every football club you’ll have fans that are absolutely in cuckoo land and want that instance success, that’s the footballing world,” he added.
“That’s why we love the game, that’s not me having a dig.
“Then you’ll have the majority of fans who have an understanding of where we actually are and not living in cuckoo land.
“You speak to people and ask what they want Walsall to be, they want to develop their own players and do it that way.
“Then they know that will take a bit of time.
“We know where we are and the areas that need improvement.”
Meanwhile, Walsall’s home form has let them down this season with five wins in 18 games, compared to seven wins in 17 matches away from home.
When asked for the reason behind that, right-back Shay Facey was unsure, but highlighted the club’s large travelling following as a boost on away days.
“I’d like to have an answer to that to be honest,” he said. “The support has been great away so they have been a massive help.
“The home form is something we need get on top of if we’re going to get higher.
“There’s been some really good individual performances but as a collective, there’s also been good performances too.
“The away form has been great so we just have to continue that and look to better our home form.”