AN­GRY CLARKE’S GAMBLE HAS TO PAY OFF

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

DAR­RELL CLARKE is a tal­ented man­ager, but threat­en­ing his play­ers is a very dan­ger­ous ma­noeu­vre.

“It might be com­ing to the end of the road for one or two if they don’t start im­prov­ing,” said the Bris­tol Rovers boss af­ter see­ing his side dumped out the FA Cup by Bar­row. “We have to in­vest in the team now.”

Sub­tlety has never been Clarke’s strong point. This is a man who, in the af­ter­math of Rovers’ Con­fer­ence play-off fi­nal vic­tory over Grimsby, climbed on a pub ta­ble and pub­licly told the the

to “f***ing print this” be­fore burst­ing into song.

The lat­est mes­sage is clear: an or­der to play­ers to pull their fingers out, a de­mand for board in­vest­ment or, most likely, both.

Clarke knows his play­ers bet­ter than me. Hope­fully, his words were dis­patched safe in the knowl­edge that other­wise good eggs would be shaken out of a post­pro­mo­tion com­fort zone.

If not, it could be an un­com­fort­able six months. Those on the end of the ver­bal barb will know who they are.

Ini­tially, they could spend the next month fo­cus­ing not on Rovers’ League One cam­paign but on find­ing a Jan­uary es­cape route.

There­after, there is no guar­an­tee that any­body will ac­tu­ally want any of Clarke’s out­casts, at least be­fore the sum­mer.

Such sit­u­a­tions can be man­aged. But when you’re two points off pro­mo­tion, it is a com­pli­ca­tion Clarke could cer­tainly do with­out.

THREAT: Dar­rell Clarke

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