Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Crewe game
United manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us shortly before the New Year’s Eve training session ahead of the trip to Crewe.
“I think the most pleasing aspect from the Peterborough game was the three points,” he said. “I think we all enjoyed the style of football we played. We passed the ball well and we looked a real goal threat every time we went forward.
“The criticism we came out of the Preston game with is that we didn’t take our opportunities. We didn’t threaten their goal anywhere near enough so we set our system up differently for the game on Sunday.
“It was an adventurous system and we were aware, with the way Peterborough do things, that we might get done on the outside of the pitch. I was prepared to take that risk to see if we could get some momentum going forward. It worked for us, so you come away feeling really happy and pleased.”
“We said when we took over that we want to play entertaining football,” he continued. “A lot of people talk about building a philosophy in football and to do that takes time. It doesn’t just happen overnight and you have to keep working away to implement your ideas out on the training pitch.
“You need the players to buy into it and I think this group is doing that. David Amoo is a good example because he looks exciting and he’s a real goal threat. We’ve got a number of players who are playing particularly well and it’s nice that the fans are able to go away happy with what they’ve seen.”
“Tomorrow will be a very difficult game,” he agreed. “They’ve picked up a bit since we last played them and they’ll want a good result at home. I’m sure they’ll bring the game to us and we’ll have to work hard to deal with that so we can get our own game going.
“There’s no doubt about it that it’s a huge game for a number of reasons. If we can win it then it’s an opportunity to put a bit of distance between ourselves and the bottom part of the table, and it keeps the belief and confidence levels high going into the weekend FA Cup game. We went there last season at the exact same time and they made it tough for us. We’ll have to match them and hopefully we’ll see the quality in the final third that we started to produce on Sunday.”
“We have some real selection problems, because of the way players have stepped up when we’ve called on them, but that’s a great position to be in,” he said. “It’s also the end of a number of loan periods and the process of sorting that situation out has already started.
“I’ve been making calls to try to cement the position with quite a few of them and we also want to add to it if we possibly can. I think we’ll have a bit of good news on Friday about a player coming in and there are other lads we certainly want to keep.
“That’s proving to be more and more difficult because other clubs have now seen them play well and they want to jump on board with that. It’s almost like we’ve done the groundwork and taken the risk, but I do know the players in question have had real benefit from being here. I only hope they aren’t looking too far ahead because the game has a habit of biting you in the backside if you end up thinking you can run before you can walk.
“My personal opinion is that it will be better for them to see out a half season loan here so they can get the games they need under their belts. Trying to tie things down has been an ongoing process for us and I’m not sure we’ve made as much headway as we would have liked. We’ll just keep moving with it.”
And having reached the half way point of the campaign with the 2-1 home win on Sunday, he said: “I was looking at it the other day and I remember telling everyone that I’d set a target of one and a half points per game. At the moment that means we are exactly where we should be.
“A win tomorrow puts us ahead of that target and a defeat will leave us behind. Overall I am very pleased with the way the group is coming together and I’m happy with the way we are playing. I’m a little bit nervous and worried about the loan players and whether or not they will stay. If they don’t then there is an element of us starting over again and that would make this next month a difficult one for us.
“However, I’m looking ahead with a heck of a lot of optimism. My glass is always half full and I am very much looking forward to the second half of the season. We want to get into that top half and the sooner we do that the better. It would be really nice to finish the season with a lot of momentum because that will give us the springboard we need for what we want to do next year.”
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