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INTERVIEW: I want the boys to hurt

21 July 2013

Manager on the Burnley game

United manager Greg Abbott gave us his reaction to the Burnley friendly shortly after full time on Saturday.

“We were up against a decent side with some really good players,” he said. “You could see the quality when we made slight errors in the first half because we got punished for them.

“That’s what happens when you come up against a team like this. We’ve placed a responsibility on our back four to keep clean sheets and one of our objectives this season is to make sure that after 20 minutes we are at nil. We just can’t go out of the game as cheaply as that and as early as that because it’s the reason why we lost a thousand fans last season. 

“We were out of too many games too early and it’s vital that the message gets through to the group that we have to dig in and give our fans some encouragement this time round. The key to our downfall was that we had four or five games early in the season last year where there was no way back and we have to be better at protecting our goal.”

“I treated this game like it was a league game and that’s why the talk at half time and full time wasn’t one of pre-season joviality,” he added. “I have again stressed the importance of keeping our goal intact because it’s an area where, once we get into the season proper, we have to be better.

“The flip side of that is that we improved in the second half and there were plenty of decent individual performances. We looked like we were capable of creating stuff and the difference was in the quality of the finishing on the day.”

“This game has come at a good time because it has shown that we come up short if we’re not as tough as we need to be,” he admitted. “I thought David Amoo and Reece James came into the game in the second half and Lee Miller still looks like he can hold the ball up for us and create openings. Lewis Guy looked really bright and lively when he came on and Paul Thirlwell was the consistent war horse in midfield for us. 

“There were a lot of things for us to take from it in a positive light but I want to make sure the boys go home hurting after this one. I want them to understand the importance of protecting their goal. There is a lot for us to work on and to nurture, but there is also a lot for us to make sure we put right.”

“Looking to the Leyton Orient game, we have a lot to do in one half of the pitch and not so much to do in the other,” he told us. “Games are different when you score the first goal – that is absolutely vital in League One. We need to make sure it’s us doing that more often.”

“We’ve been pleased with what Lewis Guy has done,” he said. “We told him that we’d get this weekend out of the way and then we’d sit down with him on Monday and see what we can do. He did well for the penalty and he scored a terrific goal and seems to work well off the back of Lee Miller. With his experience and that little bit of extra nouse it is one we would like to try and do.”

“We look forward to the Bolton game now,” he concluded. “They’ll come up here with a very strong squad and we’ll have to work hard against them. That’s exactly what we want though.  We want to be tested by these strong teams so that we know what we have to do.”

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