The defender made the switch to the Rams ahead of the current campaign to join up with Philip Cocu’s men, and he spoke about what life has been like working under the former Barcelona midfielder, who praised the centre half for his performance in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.
Cocu said, "Matt is a very hard worker, he always wants to see images [of the game]. We select clips for him and after training he stays and does extra work. Then you see in his decision-making and passing, and it is paying off. You see his confidence is better.”
“It’s nice to hear from the manager that he feels that way,” Clarke added.
“As a player all you ever want to do is improve. You can’t always be getting plaudits and sometimes you do have to roll your sleeves up, concentrate on your performances and do the best you can. It’s about working hard away from matches as well, on the training field and the extras you do away from that. If you stick at it you will improve.
“The manager has been really good to work under and all of his staff have been great. You have to really buy into the level of detail they go into, the way they go about training and their style of play.
“I don’t think I’ve ever looked into the game in as much detail as I am at the moment. Our manager believes that the details can make the difference in matches and they’re vital. The more you get those finer things right in games then the more chance you have of picking up points and ultimately being successful.”
Derby travel to face rivals Nottingham Forest tomorrow lunchtime at the City Ground, with the game being broadcast live on Sky Sports. Clarke is relishing the chance to experience the atmosphere of the contest for the first time.
“It’s a massive game, you never quite understand how much it means to the fans until you’re at the club and involved in it,” he continued.
“You get a feel for it and if you speak to the supporters then you see that it’s the one they look out for and the match they want to win.
“We have to understand and embrace the atmosphere but also recognise more importantly that we have to do our jobs on the field . It’s live on the television as well which adds an edge to it, there will be a lot of people watching and hopefully we give a good account of ourselves and get the result we want."
The win last weekend over Middlesbrough on home soil saw Clarke have a 100% tackle success rate, making nine clearances in the process - including a vital block in the opening period.
The Seagulls’ man says he now feels comfortable in the Midlands and is excited about what both he and the side can achieve over the rest of the current campaign.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far, it was about making a decision about moving somewhere where I could get the most game time and I’ve enjoyed every minute up to this point.
“I understand that these things can be a bit of a journey and not always as straightforward as you want it to be but it’s been good so far. I feel like I’m into a good rhythm and in good form at the moment - as a player all you can really ask for is a run within the side to build that consistency and understanding within the team.
“You can develop from that point, I had periods where I was a bit in and out of the team but at the moment I feel that it’s going well, I’m comfortable with the progress that I’m making.”