Saddlers boss Clarke excited to lock horns with 'fantastic' Curle in season-opener
Walsall boss Darrell Clarke has hailed Northampton's 'fantastic manager' Keith Curle as the two men prepare to pit their wits against one another in Saturday's Sky Bet League Two opener at the PTS Stadium.
Clarke, who left Bristol Rovers last December following four and a half years in charge, was named Dean Keates' permanent successor in May after caretaker boss Martin O'Connor was unable to steer Walsall away from League One relegation.
The Saddlers, having made 13 new signings over the summer, are one of several clubs expected to contend for promotion this season, and they begin their campaign with a trip to the PTS on Saturday.
“Keith is a fantastic manager and has managed a lot of games now,” Clarke told the club website.
“They have had a lot of changes at the football club as well but they managed to get their business done a bit earlier than ourselves.
“First games are very, very strange games. Sometimes the ball becomes a bit of a hot potato.
"We will see how it goes but we are looking forward to going down there and putting on a good show.
“You can talk about preparation all you want from the pre-season games but it counts for very little come the first game of the season.”
With the likes of Leyton Orient and big-spending Salford City coming up into the division this season and Plymouth, Bradford, Walsall and Scunthorpe all dropping down, League Two looks set to be as competitive as it has been for some time.
Clarke agrees with that assessment, adding: “It’s a tough league. You have got to earn every point you get. There are different games, different strengths for different teams.
“There are some technical teams, some teams that are very physical, very strong. Some are a mixture of both. We are under no illusions; we have to earn the right to win games and pick up points."