Graham Kavanagh on nice selection problems
Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us about some of his ‘nice’ selection issues off the back of a very good win against Brentford this weekend.
“We will have some selection problems next week but the players get an opportunity every single day in training to make their mark,” he said. “I’ve told them to look after themselves, to eat and train properly, and to come in every day fresh and ready to go. I pick the team every week based on who performs and trains well. That won’t change.
“The spine of the team was very good on Saturday and we have to include Greg Fleming in that. He hasn’t played as much as he would have wanted but he was alert and he made some excellent saves. He showed us what a great character he is and he needs a pat on the back for that.
“Pascal [Chimbonda] picked up a dead calf but we have Brad Potts coming into form. We brought him off with about ten minutes to go and it’s one, at the age he’s at, where you can never tell whether it will be two or three days or two or three weeks. We should know better with that later in the week and we can take a decision from there.
“Leon [McSweeney] is still our player for another month and if he trains properly, with a good attitude, he will definitely be under consideration if it is the case that Pascal can’t make it. We do have a big squad, so futures will be decided as we go on, and they are always tough decisions to make.
“We have brought in quite a few players and that’s down to the board taking a gamble on me. They’ve done that first of all by giving me the job in the first place and then by allowing me to get the players I thought would improve things through this last month. Winning this game is a huge thank you to them and I hope we can continue to repay them.”
Talking about some of the individual performances on Saturday, he said: “Lee [Miller] has been suspended and he has had one or two issues this season that he hasn’t been happy with.
“I got him in the office and I told him in no uncertain terms that it had to improve. He took it on the chin, he apologised to everybody and I think he feels that he has some redeeming to do. His performances are reflecting that at the moment, so fair play to him. That’s the sign of a very good professional.”
“James Berrett was another who was outstanding,” he continued. “The goal was top drawer but that’s something we know he has in his locker. As a midfield player myself I’ve been encouraging him to get on the half turn and get the ball forward more but with fewer touches.
“When the game is in front of him and he has options then he is a very good passer of the ball. He generally picks the right pass but he’s done it a lot slower than I would have liked in recent games. We took him out of it and gave him a chance to assess himself, and see where he could improve, and he has implemented that in training. I’ve seen a huge improvement in his all round game and he has a tremendous energy when he is really in form. We saw that on Saturday.”
“Courtney [Meppen-Walter] was one of many who did particularly well,” he agreed. “We all know he has had a very difficult time over the last few months and years and he’s gone under the radar in the sense that I didn’t want him to speak to the press.
“I wanted him to focus on his football so that we could get to see what his ability and fitness levels were like. We’ve worked extremely hard with him and that showed with what was a very impressive performance.
“It has been an awful period for Courtney and for the families involved so it was probably pleasing and a relief for him to finally be able to play football. There was a lot of excitement around the game for him because he knew he was going to be playing as early as Friday. I wanted to see if he could handle the occasion and it was definitely a risk and a gamble. I thought it was one worth taking and it paid off for us.”
“He’s had one good game so it’s a good start for him,” he confirmed. “He understands that he probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity like this without us.
“I hope he respects that - I’m sure he does - and his response has been fantastic. He has a huge amount of potential so it’s a no-brainer for me in terms of whether we try to make it a longer deal or not. However, and as I’ve said before, getting deals over the line is often easier said than done.”
“It’s very much a squad system that I want to implement at this club,” he concluded. “It’s difficult for players to understand that if they’ve never experienced it before.
“It’s a long, hard season and it’s a league where you need to be aggressive and energetic. You can find in certain areas of the pitch that you need variety and we don’t want to become a predictable side. It does cause problems in and around the dressing room because there will always be players who aren’t happy about not playing. That’s the nature of the game and it’s something we all have to get used to because we will continue to work hard to get the right mix, every single week, to drive this club forward.”