Nothing but praise from the gaffer following the 2-0 victory over Portsmouth
“I’ll be honest; I was disappointed with the first half. I just believe that we have improved that much that I want to see that improvement. We were comfortable for a 1-0 lead at half time but I always knew that they had a lot of quality in their team that could hurt us if we didn’t finish them off. We were different class in the second half with the pressure, we created chance after chance. I would like to see us finish more but I don’t think Trevor has had a save to make.
Our defensive shape was excellent and the lads are buying into what I want to do. Just looking at the energy levels in the second half, you have to remember that we also played on Tuesday, ten men last weekend and I am proud of them. I was critical when I came, but now I have nothing but praise for them. They are absolutely first class professionals in their attitude, the way they have trained, the way they have listened and the way they have responded.
Portsmouth have a teamsheet that can hurt, our front line was so inexperienced with Tom Hopper, Troy Hewitt, Dominic Poleon and even young David Worrall. People forget that he is only 21. The oldest was 21 with the youngest 18. Three of them have about nine games between them as professionals. They made mistakes but they were so enthusiastic, they played well, some link up play and Bishop added to that when he came on. Once again though, what I can’t get from them knowledge wise, we have to have through enthusiasm and endeavour, and I think they gave me that today.
Now it’s one defeat in seven, but we want to go one defeat in ten, twelve, and twenty. The crime is that we would have been top of the league if I had been here earlier. We haven’t turned the corner yet, we’ve put our head around the corner. We are still in the bottom four and we will take it slowly.
We have to make sure we carry on grinding these results out but there is a new confidence about the place. They were well up for it, but I did have words at half time. I wasn’t happy and I don’t want to have to go in there at half time to say what I have got to say, but then the response was exactly what I wanted. I’ve told the players that I shouldn’t have to do that, they know what is needed. We were disappointed at half time because we should have finished the game off.
That’s where six weeks have gone, instead of looking over our shoulders at teams waiting to beat us, we are now looking at beating teams. There’s a real difference at the club with the players and their attitude and long may it continue. I don’t care who scored the first goal, there’s six of them claiming it, and I’ll claim it.
These players are good enough, but you have to want to be good enough. It’s not enough to turn up and train and go through the motions. You have to want to play for your club; you have to want to win games. There is no better feeling than winning games. I made a few comments to see who sunk and who swum. I’m glad because they have all started swimming; most of them are still here.
It’s about how you get into them. You throw the gauntlet down and psychologically. You have to ask them are they good enough, and they have to say yes I am, then they have to show me. I am proud of what they have done.
Steven Schumacher was outstanding. Me & Shuey had words at half time. I think he is a better player than he was in the first half, and in the second half he was immense. If had scored at the end with that chance it would have capped off a fantastic second half performance. The midfield display form all of them, tackling, on the ball, off the ball, passing, tackling – for me was a 60% improvement on his first half performance.
The defenders showed good organisation, they know when to come out and when to stand off. They have worked hard, they have all worked hard, if you had seen some of the sessions that these lads have put in, it’s been tough but they look fitter and brighter. They are a great set of lads and they do want to do it. I am really proud to be their manager because they are good. It takes time, it’s my job to give them a structure and today they were immense.”
Watch the full video interview with Kevin Blackwell on Shakers Player