….starts with the first step – we are on that first step
“Carlisle’s manager (Greg Abbott) commented on our pace in the first half on Tuesday. It’s a trait of any of my teams; we move the ball quickly and get it across the ground as quickly as we can. It puts people under pressure, it’s not rocket science. You look at Barcelona – they have the best players in the world. They win the ball as high up the pitch and as early as they can to give their strikers more opportunities – and that’s really what I am trying to do. You do that and you get more chances. In the first half we had ten shot on target, 12 crosses and had four missed opportunities with six off target.
It’s difficult to do that for 90 minutes. Physichally it was a demanding game, mentally it affects you when you start missing opportunities. We could have easily gone it at half time four or five nil up. The game would have been dead and buried. We have to be more clinical on the finishing. Greg Abbott spoke to me after the game, and there were a lot of scouts here, and many of them have told me that it was a first class performance. Normally you walk away from that sort of performance with a three or four nil.
We just have to keep doing what we are doing. People will see when they come here that my teams are very hard to beat. I think we have started to become hard to beat. That’s a pre-condition of any team. If you are easy to beat, then you will lose a lot of games.
Greg Abbott told me after the game that they feared coming to Gigg Lane. We will keep building on what we are doing. The lads have found it tough, training has been tough, the tempo has been high but I am pleased with how they have responded. It will take them time to get used to this.
We are still doing the double training sessions and I am trying to teach the players and hopefully to get them into the shape and pattern as quickly as I can. I haven’t got three or four months. It’s not as if I have a pre-season to jell people together. The season is underway and we are gradually bringing players in. I’ve brought three players in and we are trying to get them all to understand the shape, pattern and responsibility, so double training sessions at the moment are the course.
The lads from Leeds and Matt Doherty have all come here, and they have found the tempo in training tough. They will recover quicker though because they have younger legs than most. There was a real zest about the team on Tuesday, a real tempo about the way we played from start to finish.
We have to keep going, but again, it’s about building the whole place and that does take time. When Neil Warnock and I left Bury to go to Sheffield United, it took us two years to get what we wanted, but from that point onwards they have
had, until recently, ten years with challenging for the premier league or in the premier league. The tempo in the way we played and the way we trained was key to that. I know I haven’t got two years to build this here, but it will take time. By bringing players in and sorting one or two things out gradually will take a bit of time.
We want to stay in league one; I’ve made that quite clear. That’s the aim and I have every confidence that we can do that. A lot of people that were here on Tuesday have said that this is a team that looks very comfortable, very confident and we played some good high tempo football. The fans couldn’t sit on their seats for long because anything could have happened and unfortunately for us, we didn’t kill the game off. We knew the second goal was key, if we had got that second goal, we would have then killed the game off.
I was chatting with some of the lads after training, and they have said that there have been a lot of things happening here that they have not seen, not done or heard of before. They are learning, we are all learning, but after 14 days I have seen a massive improvement, hopefully now we will get that good fortune now things have been sorted out a bit.
There are only five teams in league one that have scored more goals than us away from home. We have to be careful that we don’t become an ‘away’ side. I don’t want that. On Tuesday we put a marker down. You do not get on your bus at Gigg Lane leaving here thinking that was easy. Carlisle got on their bus on Tuesday and said thank god we don’t have to come back here this season. That’s what I want.
Apparently last season, one of the bad runs ended with a home draw and a win at Yeovil. I’ll take that again. The lads know they are close, everyone knows we are close. We’ve gone through a rough time as a club, it’s not been good. It’s down to a lack of confidence, a lack of certainty, a lack of clarity both on and off the pitch. Any company that goes through that sort of spell can be nerve racking. Now we look a lot more settled, on and off the pitch. If we keep doing what we are doing, I am quietly confident without shouting about it, that we are close to turning the corner. The road of a thousand miles starts with the first step; we are on that first step.”
Watch the full video interview for lots more from the gaffer on Shakers Player