Tuesday 16 November 2004

A time for change...

Season two for Bristol Rovers was a very different affair. The glory days of last season were no more, apart from a win on the opening day Clarketti found his newly promoted side struggle to even get draws.

Things were not looking good. After 12 games Rovers were 21st in the 1st division with a mere eight points. Things had to change. Bristol were scoring enough goals but their poor defensive record was hampering any real consistency. To sure up the defensive line Clarketti decided that his trusted 4-4-2 formation had to be scrapped in order to salvage anything meaningful from the season.

5-3-2 was the formation of choice. By replacing the wingers with wingbacks and introducing and extra man to create a back three, the wins slowly began to materialise. The team gradually began to rise out of the relegation battle.

As things began to get better for Bristol, things took a turn for the worse at Fulham. Results failed to materialise and their well respected manager Chris Coleman was sacked by the outspoken Mohamed al-Fayed.

Clarketti’s name was thrown into the mixing pot of possible replacements for the hot seat at Fulham. Among the other names were Roy Evans and an aging Terry Venables

Al-Fayed placed his trust in little known Italian manager Stuartini Clarketti. He found Fulham eighteen places off the top with twenty five games remaining. Clarketti wasted no time in assessing his squad as an away clash with Derby was in three days.

The Fulham first team was strong enough to obtain a safe mid-table position but lacked the strength in depth needed to battle a full Premiership season. One or two key injuries could mean disaster for the small London club.

Clarketti had £3,500,000 to spend but had to wait until the transfer deadline was lifted in January before he could begin to rebuild his aging squad.

3-0 against Derby was the jumpstart his side needed and in five games had 8 points. Crucially this was 3 more than Fulham’s closest rivals.

The transfer embargo was lifted and Clarketti set about restructuring his side. The old guard or Marlet and Cole were retiring at the end of the season so replacements had to be found. Manchester United’s Djemba Djemba was first to come in, followed by Blackburn’s winger Steven Reid.

With 15 games remaining Fulham are 13th in the Premiership.

Things are looking bright for the young manager. Bigger clubs beckon.

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