Kevin Blackwell on performances, fitness and looking forward to the Exeter City game
“I’m frustrated for the players after playing as well as they did last weekend, especially when you see the stats from the game. The number of chances they created is quite incredible with the number of shots on target that we had, and it was exactly the same from the week before. I want more of the same, and if we keep doing that then I am sure we will score more goals.
Thankfully we’ve had no mid-week game this week and that has given me the chance to get more time on the training ground. The players are starting to understand just how I expect my players to be fitter than most people. It’s never about endurance running of fitness, it’s all been about football specific work and it has been tough, but there is a smile on their faces, they were buzzing in training on Thursday and we’ve had another good session. I am really pleased with the way that the lads have responded.
Training is as fast as and as intense as the game are. You train as you play. If you train at 50mph and the game is played at 100mph, then how can you be any good at it? You train as you play. I always think that if you can train at 100mph, then play at 100mph – then you can play at 50mph when it’s required. If you train slowly, you cannot play quickly. If you train quickly, you can definitely play slow when needed. We don’t train with shin pads on, but some of the tackles this week do make you think they may be needed at times. You ask the lads to be sensible. One or two of them might wear them, but it’s not a specific requirement for me.
The biggest frustration is the stats coming from games. 17 shots on target, six of target. We hit the post and it’s bounced out instead of in, their goalkeeper has made some unbelievable saves – for the second week in a row we’ve also had two or three cleared off the line, but we have to be making those chances for us to win games. As long as we keep creating the chances, I will be more than happy and it will be nice to see that little bit of fortune when we need it go our way, but if we keep doing it, then I am going to be really happy.
Before I arrived the lads were hardly making a shot, there was a comment I heard at one away game where the fans celebrated a shot on target. It’s been highlighted by the fans that we were not creating the chances or taking the opportunity to shoot, but now we are. Hitting the target 17 times during a game is good stats. It’s an improvement, now we have to be clinical and finish off some of this approach play, and hopefully we won’t be taking about missed chances every week.
Their goal was an individual error, that’s what we have seen in recent weeks. We haven’t been smart enough to deal with something when we should be smart enough to deal with things. That’s the frustrating aspect, it’s not about chances that have come and gone, it was the fact that we’ve given someone another goal again. I do get frustrated with it; we are giving things away for nothing but we are not getting the same back in return and I have told the lads to stop giving cheap Mickey Mouse goals away. Once again, we have tried to work on it again and we’ve worked very hard on defending and again, I’ve asked them to stop giving cheap goals away.
Shots are not going in, silly mistakes – there’s an element of a confidence problem there, but we have seen the performances improving week by week. They are getting better, now when we go behind we come back; we’ve done that numerous times. Performances are a pre-cursor to results and we are getting the performances now. We are starting to bully teams and people are not looking forward to coming to play Bury - home and away. We are a much harder proposition now and that’s what we have to do between now and the end of the season.
We’ve lost one in four, which should be unbeaten in the last five, maybe six. Its building, we’ve stopped the defeats and getting draws, now we have to stop the draws and get wins. It’s that progressive steps that are manageable, we know how it works and we are progressing the way that I want us to go.
There is no Tom Hopper this weekend which only adds to the frustrations because Andy Bishop is still out injured. It means we haven’t got a target man; Lenell John-Lewis is still out as well. In this division you tend to need to have a target man, but we have to be smarter and work without him. I’ve told Tom to return home to Leicester for the weekend to relax, but he’s told me that he wants to stay here, be a part of the squad and be here at the game – for me, that speaks volumes about his character. All the loan players want to stay because they are really enjoying it.
Exeter’s league form hasn’t been that brilliant of late, but this is a cup tie. League form goes out of the window, it’s a cup tie. Paul Tisdale will come here well organised and they will make it a tough task for us. We have to stamp out authority on them. Exeter are a nice club, full of nice people and they work very hard, we know it’s going to be very tough.’
Watch the full video interview with Kevin Blackwell on Shakers Blackwell