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Port Vale always had the right man for League One survival but let him go: View

After overcoming personal trauma to lead the Valiants to League One, Darrell Clarke was fired. Since then, he has turned around relegation opponents.

After a terrible season marked by fan protests, a manager’s dismissal, the “mutual” termination of a football director, and some of the most disinterested performances Vale Park has seen in years, Port Vale appears set for a return to League Two.

One year has passed since Port Vale fired manager Darrell Clarke, who had guided the team to League One. The decision now appears to have been irrational and has resulted in a disastrous outcome.

Darrell Clarke

Vale are heading down the League One trapdoor, and unless Clarke can turn around Cheltenham Town—a team that had not scored in ten games straight when he took over—to view League One survival as a real possibility.

Sorry, Clarke’s stay in Port Vale is over.
After Vale’s promotion to League One, Clarke—who had survived the devastating loss of his 18-year-old daughter the previous season—had worked a small miracle there.

Under his leadership, the Valiants got off to a respectable start to the season. The relegation favourites mostly remained in the middle of the table until a strong stretch of performances, which included a 3-1 comeback victory at Forest Green Rovers on New Year’s Day 2023, put them in ninth place.

In fact, Vale might have finished in seventh place and had games in hand over most of the clubs above them when rivals Peterborough United visited Vale Park two weeks later, but the 0–2 loss started a run of seven games without a victory.

darrell clarke

However, after 32 games, Vale was in 12th place thanks to a 1-0 victory over Exeter City at home. In March, another 1-0 success against MK Dons at home allayed relegation fears.

Though Vale seemed to be sliding down the table, other teams were having difficulty as well because the table was narrow at the bottom. Owner Carol Shanahan finally fired Clarke, leaving Vale in 18th place in the standings with games remaining against clubs lower in the standings. This meant that Vale had to win to survive.


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