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INTERVIEW: Have to bridge the gaps

11 August 2013

Manager on the Bradford game

United manager Greg Abbott gave us his reaction to a disappointing away day at Bradford City.

“This is a tough industry and the game is all about competing on a level playing field,” he said. “We explained the strengths of the Bradford side to our lads before kick off because they like to get the ball back to front quickly and they make life difficult by battling for the second ball.

“We talked about stopping the delivery into their front men and we talked about closing people down, because they are all ugly parts of the game you have to do first. Unfortunately, man for man, they were tougher, more experienced and they made us look a really ragged side.”

“When you look at the age group of the team which started the game, it was always going to be difficult,” he continued. “This is going to be my toughest season by a long way because of the thinness of the squad. 

“We need to be injury free and we need our senior players to be playing every week. It’s even tougher now than it was two weeks ago because we’ve lost two games far too heavily. We have to find a way to deal with it.

“It’s not about making excuses because we were just too young and fragile. We need everyone in our squad to be fit and available or we’re going to find it hard. We had too many young boys who are still learning their trade and you do get found out when that’s the case. 

“League One is not a nice place to try and learn about your job. It’s where I spent a lot of my career and I can warn them about what they will come up against, but they have to go out there and win these battles. We didn’t do that and we’ve all let the club down today. It wasn’t good enough, from top to bottom, and that starts with me in the dug out. 

“I put the team together and I’ve assembled the squad, so the buck hast to stop with me. It is difficult because clubs like this have just signed the likes of Mark Yeates on thousands of pounds, and we’re signing people on hundreds. 

“That does make a big difference to what you can do. Success and good teams come at a bit of a price, I’m afraid, and when you aren’t paying the price you sometimes get found out. That’s not the overriding factor, but it is part of it. Overall they were tougher and better than us in most departments and that does make the job a tough one.”

“We get back into work on Monday and we look at how we put this right,” he said. “We do need Sean O’Hanlon, Lee Miller, Matt Robson and all of those types of people back so that we can start to command our back four and keep clean sheets. 

“Defensively we were very easy to breach and that will never be acceptable. The first goal was a wonder goal, you can’t do much about those, but the rest come down to the fact that we lose the ball in the middle of the pitch. That’s either by not tracking or by missing out on the tackles, and it’s a danger area for us. 

“It makes life difficult when the midfield pair is dominated and the same then happens to the two centre halves. It was the same up front and that made them look a lot better than we are.”

“I think the game next week will be the toughest one of my tenure because it is imperative that we get a result,” he admitted. “We need support and we need the players to go out there and be prepared to die for us. 

“If someone gets the better of you it should be with bumps and bruises. I didn’t see too much of that going on today. There are a lot of broken hearts in the dressing room but we can’t feel too sorry for ourselves. We got what we deserved.”

“You do doubt yourself sometimes and you do ask yourself if you’re doing the right things, or giving the right messages out,” he told us. “This is what the industry is. When you don’t win you get a bad reaction from the fans. I think they’re entitled to ask if we know what we’re doing and all I will say is that we haven’t got a team that’s as good as it should be with the injury problems we have.

“I don’t think there is too much scope for us to bring anyone else in at the moment. It’s common knowledge that there isn’t a great deal of money around and we’re trying to fill a few holes as well as we can.

“There are gaps because of where we are as a club, but we have to bridge them through effort and determination. Nobody wants our fans to travel and see a performance like that. I sympathise with them and I take on board all of their moans and groans. We need to regroup and get everybody back fit and we need to stick together.”

“I felt sorry for the young players today because we need to protect them from that kind of thing,” he said. “Patrick Brough didn’t do a great deal wrong but he had to come off because we have to look after him. I hope he has a fantastic career ahead of him and we need to help him with that. I think Mark Gillespie was our best player by a considerable mile but, in all honesty, there wasn’t too much else anywhere on the pitch for us.

“We’ll have to try and do things differently because we have to be better than that. We have to get our defensive work right and we can build on it from there. We need a big reaction now and, when we get them all back into work on Monday, that’s what we will be demanding from them.”

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