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Darrell Clarke: I'm the right man for Bristol Rovers job

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 08, 2014

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke

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Darrell Clarke believes that he is the right man to lead Bristol Rovers back to the Football League at the first time of asking.

Clarke failed to steer Rovers clear of relegation after taking charge of the first team with eight games of the season remaining – but looks likely to remain at the helm after meeting with chairman Nick Higgs and the board earlier this week.

"I have mixed emotions about everything that has happened this week," said Clarke. "I am distraught for everybody at the football club and the supporters, but I am also very determined to put things right next season.

"We are going into a very difficult league and there is a lot of work ahead of us to reshape the squad, but I am ready to take on that challenge. I've sat down with the board and outlined my plans as to where I want to go with the squad and I just want to get on with the job now.

"Some fans will say I am inexperienced, but I captained a Conference Premier team for two years and have had a couple of promotions with a full-time team.

"I'm not as inexperienced as some people like to make out, but I believe the majority of supporters will get right behind me and the new squad that I am going to assemble.

"I think I am the right man for the job and I'll happily be judged on the results after I have put my own squad together."

Clarke began that process earlier this week when releasing 12 players from the squad that suffered relegation to the Conference on the final day of the season.

The manager is hoping that player of the season Michael Smith will be persuaded to stay by the offer of an improved and extended contract, while a deal has also been offered to out-of-contract full-back Lee Brown.

Senior professionals Steve Mildenhall, Mark McChrystal, Tom Parkes and John-Joe O'Toole also remain contracted to the club and Clarke said: "We don't want to lose our best players. We want to be getting promotion in the first year, but we all know that isn't going to be easy. The Conference is a notoriously difficult league to get out of, but promotion has to be our aim and for us to achieve it we will need to try to keep our best players.

"If any player comes to me and says that they want to leave the club then it is probably in the best interests of all concerned if they do.

"If anybody doesn't want to be here then they'd better go ahead and get themselves fixed up elsewhere and make sure any offer that comes in is right for our football club.

"It is my job to see where the mind-sets of the players are and if I get an inkling that anybody is not ready for the fight ahead then they won't be playing for me."

Meanwhile, Rovers have moved to clear up the confusion regarding the release of striker Eliot Richards after the Welshman took to Twitter to express his feelings.

The Welsh forward, who has been on loan at Exeter, tweeted that he had not been made aware of his release by Rovers.

A statement from Rovers read: "We received a letter from Exeter a week ago exercising their option to take Eliot Richards at the end of the season, therefore we were under the impression that the player was aware he had been released. Darrell (Clarke) has now spoken to Eliot and we would like to apologise for any misunderstanding."

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