Defender demands ruthless Pompey mindset
MATT CLARKE prepared for promotion D-Day and demanded: Be ruthless.
Pompey can seal a place in League One today as a 4,400-plus army of fans travel to Notts County.
But Clarke knows the in-form Magpies will be out to spoil their party at Meadow Lane.
Kevin Nolan’s side have won four and drawn one of their past five games and are unbeaten on their patch in 2017.
So it’s going to be far from a straightforward challenge for Paul Cook’s men as they travel north.
Pompey know a win with Luton failing to defeat Mansfield would be enough to get them over the line.
That would get the celebrations started, and Clarke knows full well what a special moment that will be in the 20-year-old’s career.
But the defender feels his side have to put all that to one side and show a steely edge.
He said: ‘It could be a party, but we have to go in there with a ruthless mindset.
‘We want the three points. We don’t want to think about what’s going on with sides around us.
‘It doesn’t matter if teams around us win, lose or draw – we just want three points. The more games we win the quicker we will get there. It will happen then at some point.
‘We don’t want to get wrapped up in mathematically placing when we will get promoted.
‘We just have to do our own job.
‘It will be a special moment, and the senior players in the dressing room say they are the best days when you get promoted.
‘They are the best times, but we have to stick to our jobs.’
Notts County’s upturn in form means they are tucked safely in 15th place going into the game.
But they will be motivated by the prospect of denying Pompey their big day on their patch.
Clarke highlighted how it is a similar scenario to Plymouth arriving at Fratton Park on Friday with the champagne on ice.
He said: ‘We wanted to spoil their party and we want to be the ones partying.
‘If we lost on Friday it would’ve been disappointing and demoralising to see them celebrating.
‘It added to motivation on the day, but we didn’t want to get too riled up in what they were doing really.
‘Notts County will be the same now, but we have to concentrate on ourselves.’
There will be eyes on phones looking for what’s unfolding at Field Mill tomorrow between Luton and Mansfield.
Clarke thinks that is natural enough, as well as weighing up the different permutations for Pompey.
The former Ipswich man thinks a focus on winning and leaving it all on the pitch has to be the main aim for his side, though.
He said: ‘Those are conversations which go on with players and fans.
‘I think the moral is we just need to keep winning. If we keep winning and picking up points we’ll get over the line.
‘I don’t think anyone left the game thinking we could’ve done anymore.
‘That’s what we have to carry forward now to Notts County.’