Back Darrell Clarke to lead Bristol Rovers into the League One play-offs

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Darrell Clarke and Bristol Rovers ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.

Background

Darrell Clarke signed a new five-year deal in the summer, which was a source of rejoice for Bristol Rovers fans because the double promotion-winning manager remains by far their greatest asset. The 39-year-old ended last season both proud and frustrated, finishing tenth in League One with virtually the same squad of players that were playing non-league two years ago. And this despite losing 16-goal striker Matty Taylor to arch-rivals City in January. Clarke cannot conceal his burning ambition, though - tenth is nowhere, he wants and demands more.

Personality

Clarke’s character is what sets him apart from most other managers, rather than any particular facet of his personality. He takes every setback in his stride and his entire belief system is geared towards a self-fulfilling prophecy of future success. He sets high standards on the training ground and imposes a no-excuses culture on his players. Observation is the dominant function. He prides himself on his ability to gauge the mood of a dressing room just before kick-off and deliver the right talk.

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Verdict

Slow and steady wins the race for Bristol Rovers. They aren’t the most flamboyant team in the division and they frequently pass under the radar. But they usually get the basics right and profit from the merits of consistency and mental fortitude. They don’t do freebies and they never throw in the towel, so when others begin to lose focus they usually have the wherewithal to take advantage. They might take a while to get going but, come late April, they should be there or thereabouts.

Prediction: play-offs

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