Manager ahead of the Oldham game
United manager Greg Abbott spoke to us ahead of the weekend trip to Oldham.
“We’re satisfied with the Easter results,” he said.
“We never get over-satisfied, but we also don’t beat ourselves up. We’re happy that we have a lot of commitment and endeavour, and everyone who was at Sheffield United will agree that there was an absolute 100% commitment to this football club from all the players and staff. That’s all you can ever ask for.”
“Oldham won’t be an easy task,” he told us. “I went to watch Lee [Johnson]’s first game in charge and they were terrific.
“They’ll want the points on their own pitch just as much as we do. If it was easy we could just turn up and take the points, but I know that Saturday’s game will be tougher than Sheffield United on Monday. Oldham will have the backing of their fans and will need the points probably more than Sheffield did. It won’t be any easier, that’s for sure.”
“Losing Sean [O’Hanlon] is a blow, but it’s what happens,” he admitted. “We’ve talked about losing key players at key times too much in the past and it sometimes does affect clubs like us.
“We have a more than worthy replacement ready to take his place and show why he deserves to be in the team, so one door shuts and another is very wide open.
“We’re all relaxed about the 50 point margin, and from the outside it gives a sense of the script being written if we can reach that. Until we reach it, it’s still there.
“But we’re all relaxed and all confident about it even though we haven’t really spoken much about it. We just need to keep picking up points like we have been, and if that takes us over the line then great. Doing it with five games to go is better than how I did it the first time around with twenty minutes to go!”
“Everything matters, and if we can do well at the end of this season then we need to keep it going over a longer period,” he continued. “We didn’t concede a goal away from home at Sheffield United which is one of the toughest places to go in the league. They will finish in the top three, so it’s good to set that standard. We can look at that and reflect on it and see why both good and bad things have happened.”
“We have talked about what we expect over the next few games, and that is to do everything right,” he said. “In a football season from when we report back in July, you don’t get two days off.
“It’s an unbelievable haul, and people don’t understand how it takes over your world. It’s a different kind of pressure, and what we’ve said to the squad is to keep on going and trying your best.
“We all look after each other here and we just have to keep each other going. It’s like a marathon run, you can’t slow down you have to keep going through the finishing line into the stadium. That’s what we have to do, carry on through that last 100 metres and not let up.
“Wherever we finish, we just have to keep doing the last things regardless of the last nine months. Each individual has to do that, and in all fairness I think we have that as nobody has thrown the towel in. It’s something that can happen, but it hasn’t happened here.”
“We’re trying to say to all the players that, if they get a chance in the first team, to take it. We’ve conceded more goals this year than we have in a long time, so that means someone isn’t doing their job right.
“That isn’t down to individuals, but as a collective unit. We’ve told the team that we need to be better when we don’t have the ball. We have to be a better team when chasing possession and tougher when winning the ball back, and we can say that we have been for the second half of the season.
“If you take the first half of the season out of it then we probably have found that, but we can’t forget that. The message we give to the lads going out there is that there is two sides to the game: when you have the ball and when you don’t. We look okay when we have the ball, just not when we don’t. Again, I don’t want to point the finger at anyone.
“Matty [Robson] is still a concern. I don’t know if I’ll have him available for the weekend, but we should find out today [Friday]. If he is available, then he will definitely be in the squad because he deserves that. He has a slight back spasm and it isn’t like a normal injury because there’s no time scale on back injuries.”
“The group is a good group and I’ve said that too many times,” he told us. “Across the football club, from the chairman down, people have tough times. You have to deal with that very quickly, because outside the club there is no sentiment. There’s no time to reflect, we just need results and performances. If you’re in it, then you’re in it, and you have to deal with that. The players have done very well with that.
“I want a result on Saturday. I would like to win 4-3 in an exciting manner, but I just want a result. We’re in the stage of the season where results take over from performance and the excitement.”
“The fans were brilliant at Sheffield on Monday,” he concluded. “They made a lot of noise for 600 and all of them stayed behind and showed their appreciation to the players, and that means you have done something right.
“We need to make sure that however many are there, we need them to stay behind at the end applauding us off the pitch, because that shows we have given a good account of ourselves. Generally we have good results following that.”
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