Kingpin! - 29/06/2006
SIMON Grayson has revealed that he plans to build next season's Blackpool team around Peter Clarke.
The Seasiders' boss has admitted that Clarke has been a colossus this season and Grayson's aim is to bring in more players in the summer as good as his skipper.
With a number of League One clubs admiring Pool's ever-present centre back, the Seasiders were quick to trigger an option in Clarke's contract which keeps him at Bloomfield Road for the next 12 months.
That's good news for Grayson who, having kept the side up, is spending his summer planning for next season and trying to transform a struggling side into a team capable of challenging for a top six place.
To do that he needs to retain his best players – and there's no doubt Clarke is certainly one of those.
"Peter Clarke is the captain and has been a big player for the club," said Grayson. "He has done very well, he is very consistent in his performances and he didn't miss many games – and you need those sort of players around you. "Clarkey wasn't going anywhere no matter what division we were in next season. He was always going to be here and the good thing is that he will only get better, because he is still young and learning. "You need those players around you, but he also needs those players around him, and that's what we are trying to do – we are developing a squad here that should be able to perform as well as he does. "If we can do that then we've got a very good chance of success."
Clarke's performances last season were outstanding and he deservedly won several awards at the player of the year night ... for a second season running.
As well as his defending he has also chipped in with crucial goals and he finished as the club's second top scorer alongside John Murphy with eight goals.
That's why Grayson rates him so highly. "You know what you are going to get from him," the manager added.
"He has been exceptional for the 18 months that he has been back here.
"He is a captain and a leader and his performances have typified that. He epitomises the fact that we're all in it together and that there is a great team spirit.
"We won survival last season and the kind of fighting spirit that kept us up was epitomised in Clarkey – he produced the goods for us all season. He has done very well. "To play that number of games in a season is testament to his fitness and his ability. How he got through nine games without a booking, with a two-match suspension hanging over him, I'll never know.
"He has been a consistent performer and he has done very well for the last 18 months that he has been at the club. "You need those sort of people at a club. If the majority of people in the team play the majority of games then you've got that consistency in selection and in the team's pattern. It makes it easier for everyone.
We haven't had that. It's been unfortunate that we've had 13 left-backs, eight or nine right-backs, because of injuries and suspensions, and that's a large turnover in players.
"That's what I'm looking to change. I want to get a group of players, playing on a regular basis and knowing what they are doing on a Saturday home and away and have consistency throughout the season. "The major problem for this club over the last few years has been a lack of consistency. We need to put that right."
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