Reaction to the Boxing Day game
United manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the Boxing Day defeat against Preston.
“I’m obviously not pleased with the result but I’m really pleased with the way we approached the game,” he said. “I told the lads afterwards that there is a right way to lose a game – by being aggressive and by taking it to the opposition – so I’ll take that all day long.
“We didn’t have an abundance of chances but I thought we played in their half much more than they played in ours. Obviously they got their goal in the first half and that was a fantastic bit of quality. It came from our throw in, which was very disappointing, but he took it really well. Sometimes you have to take your hat off to an individual piece of brilliance and that’s exactly what that was.
“After that there are aspects of the game we do need to look at but I can’t fault the endeavour or the work rate. We lacked a final ball at times but we kept the tempo up and I thought we were unlucky not to get something.”
“I thought the fans were magnificent,” he agreed. “They stayed with us for long periods and that gave the players a real belief and energy. We had lots of momentum without quite managing to cut them open and get a clear chance but, like I say, if we lose in that manner then it’s much easier to accept.
“Hopefully the fans will see what we have tried to do and they’ll appreciate the way we played. We are trying to get up in support of Lee [Miller] with runs from the middle of the park and I thought David Amoo and Tom Lawrence did that for us. The midfield three worked extremely hard and the two centre halves were strong. Overall we haven’t played badly but we’ve got nothing to show for it.
“I genuinely thought it was a decent performance but you don’t always win the games you deserve to win. We had two chances cleared off the line, we had a goal disallowed and we had a lot of set pieces. I hope the fans do get behind us again in the same way because it makes a real difference when you have that number of people in the stadium. It’s up to us to work as hard as we can to make them believe. On another day it could easily have been a win.”
“Initially I thought our disallowed goal was onside but I’ve been told that the flag was up really quickly,” he explained. “That rocked us back a little bit because it was a good goal but, as I said earlier, I’m really pleased and I can’t fault the lads for the way they went into the game.
“We have to give Preston some credit because they have some very good players and they have ground a result out for themselves. But I look at the way our group is buying into what we are trying to implement and I can’t ask for any more than that.
“I don’t think it’s a day too be too negative or over critical. I totally agree that we could have done better with our final ball on occasions but we’ve kept going and kept trying to play the game properly. We didn’t want to lose the good run we’ve been having at home but we can certainly come off the back of this feeling confident about the game against Peterborough on Sunday.”
“We’re into a heavy run of games now and we do have one or two injuries and niggles to contend with,” he continued. “Matt Robson complained that his back was a little bit sore the other day and I’m very cautious of playing him because it could turn into a long term injury if it isn’t treated properly. We’ll keep assessing him and we’ll see when we all think he’ll be ready to go again.
“There were a lot of positives from the day. Brad Potts got 90 minutes, and he grew into it, and Josh Morris improved as the game went on. With the level we’re at, if we are going to win every week then every single player has to be on top of his game. I think we were there in terms of effort in this game but we didn’t quite get there with the quality we needed.
“I’m sure people will look at the table and feel that things aren’t brilliant but if we keep playing like this then we’ll win games. It was probably my quickest post-match team talk since I took over because I was very proud of the way they performed. It’s a case of dusting ourselves down and getting ready to go again for Sunday.”
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