Kevin Blackwell’s thoughts ahead of Saturdays game with Portsmouth
“I said a few weeks ago that we needed the performances to be somewhere near better before we started to turn the results around, and to be fair the lads have given me that. Now I am looking for performances and the results that last for 90 minutes. We are putting some really good spells in games but now we want that continuity and consistency.
On Tuesday we showed some good attacking flair in the first half and some solid defending in the second half. We’ve been guilty, and we all accept the charge as read in that we haven’t been defending as well as we should have been. The remit was to make sure we work hard in defending and to be fair, the lads have done that. I also want us to excite people as well so I want to increase the tempo and try and get the forward players with pace going forward.
We caused Oldham unknown problems in the first half, the game should have been dead and buried at half time, but in the 90 minutes, the opposition at home, playing in front of their own fans will put you under some sort of pressure and when they do that, you have to stand up and be counted. You have to dig in and grind results out. They are the characteristics I want. When you look at all the top teams, they have spells throughout the game and the ability to grind out results when needed. If you have that happy medium, then you will get more results.
I’ve had plenty of good positive comments from Oldham fans and people that were at the game. What we have done this season is given teams a fourteen game start, now we really have to be good, we need to be a good team.
The one talking point from both sets of fans was the referee. It’s commonly known that as a manager you tend to get hauled up in front of the coals for any comment about referees. The fans can say what want to say. It’s the same for any manager, it’s frustrating but to be fair to the referee’s, they do have a tough job on their hands. It’s a game where things are happening so quickly that sometimes the decisions can be questionable.
I think referees should face the press after games. If you get paid to do a job, then you get paid to answer the job. I get paid to be a football manager, I don’t get paid to speak to the press, but that’s a part of the job. They don’t get paid to speak to the press, they get paid to do a job, but yes, they should speak to the press. I can see it coming in eventually. If things are not improving then questions need to be asked. Maybe one day it will come in.
Whichever way you dress the stats up, its improvement and that’s why the directors brought me in. I came here to turn this around. I want to win as many games as I can. It’s something that I pride myself in as a manager. You don’t come here with a 44% win rate over 300 games. It’s very much my own personal pride and the players do understand that. On Tuesday I wanted that clean sheet and it was disappointing to see the goal go in.
Crystal Palace have gone from the bottom of the championship to the top of the table in eight weeks. The big difference between them and us is they didn’t give other teams a 14 game start. In 2008, I took Sheffield United from third bottom in 14 games to a point outside the play offs. We had 11 wins, two draws and one defeat.
I’ve spoken to Neil Warnock about Dominic (Poleon) and Zac (Thompson). I am hopeful that Leeds will extend their loan deals with us. There’s no firm decision yet, but I am hoping for a positive decision and once again we have to thank Leeds United and Neil Warnock for letting us having them in the first place. I know both of them want to stay; they have really enjoyed their time here so let’s hope that we can all agree to the same thing.
I know what Portsmouth are going through; I went through something similar with Luton and Leeds United. Leeds were exactly the same as Portsmouth and eventually ended up in administration, selling all the best players. Crippled with wages that they could not afford and dragging the club down to the lower reaches of the football league. Who would have thought Leeds United would be in the third tier of English football. In 2002 they played in a champion’s league semi-final, four years later it’s the third division. You feel for the fans because it’s them that always pay the price. I’m sure they enjoyed the glory days, unfortunately now though they are paying a heavy price for it.
I’m looking forward to seeing the Gigg Lane remembrance service. I cannot pay enough homage to what the guys and girls who fight for their country do, they put their lives on the line. With all that’s gone on in the last ten years in Iraq & Afghanistan, it’s a chance for us to say thank you. When people talk about a brave decision in football, that’s not brave. What the forces do is brave and I can only pay homage to them. They are fantastic courageous people. Sometimes I wish I could manage people like that, they would be terrific to work with.”
Watch the full video interview with the gaffer on Shakers Player