INTERVIEW: Worked their socks off

Manager on the Bolton game

United manager Greg Abbott gave us his reaction to the 1-0 win over Bolton shortly after the full time whistle had blown.

“Looking back to Saturday, I thought we actually played some decent stuff when we had the ball against Burnley,” he said. “That was certainly the case in the second half.

“But we know we’re not going to get very far this season if we’re not better defensively. It was all we talked about after the game at the weekend and we deliberately put the lads through a double session on Monday.

“We trained again on Tuesday morning – that’s unusual for the day of a game. The lads have taken it on board because we defended from the front against Bolton. Lee Miller, Lewis Guy and David Amoo worked their socks off and they looked very tired at the end of it with the amount of energy and work they put in.”

“Bolton will be challenging right at the top end of things next season, there is no doubt about that,” he continued. “They have some wonderful players but we held our own against them. That is very, very pleasing. 

“The shape of our team was terrific and the determination they showed was absolutely outstanding. We’ve kept a clean sheet against a very good side and it helps us to set our stall out. 

“I’m in clean sheet country at the moment because it’s vital that we keep our goal intact. We need players who are going to throw their bodies on the line. We talked about taking the friendly aspect out of the game because we didn’t feel that we’d being doing things right up to now. We told the lads to treat it as if it was the start of our season and we got that response, so fair play to them.”

“They deserve the praise they are going to get because they were terrific in terms of their all round energy and application,” he told us. “We have to take a lot of encouragement from a performance like that. It was the right way for us to play. 

“You look at the central defence, and the way they performed, and you wouldn’t believe it was the same two who played on Saturday against Burnley. Having said that, we can’t just heap all the blame on the defence. 

“We have to give them some protection, but they do have to take responsibility for making sure they stop balls and players from going into dangerous areas. That happened across the board and we’ve had some really good performances from individuals and as a team.”

“A game like that is bound to give a boost to confidence,” he admitted. “You need to see wins against good sides because that brings belief. One of the most pleasing things was the substitutes coming on and coming to the party. Dave Symington was terrific for 20 minutes and Josh Gillies has really settled, so it’s all good at the moment. 

“David Amoo likes getting the praise and being in the limelight so he’ll be buzzing about the way he played. He’s a really good kid and we want him to excite the fans out on the pitch. He’s found life difficult over the last twelve months and we are there to put our arms round him and help to develop him. I’ve told him that if he works as hard off the ball as he does when he has it then this crowd is going to love him. I think he’s already won the Paddock over … I’ve been trying to do that for six years and I still haven’t got there!”

“The work is going to be done to try to get the season off to a good start and to try to win people back,” he explained. “We want a successful season and the signs are there that we’re on the right course to do that. 

“The good thing in the dressing room is that we have a group of players who want to be here. They are buying into what we want to achieve and, when we have that, we will try to help them as much as we can.”

“Sean [O’Hanlon] was missing because he has a bit of swelling on the knee and we don’t want to risk it too much,” he said. “It’s a result of the pounding he’s given it on some of the very hard surfaces we’ve seen, so it shouldn’t be anything long term. 

“Hopefully he’ll be ready for one of the games at the weekend and we would hope to see him get through 90 minutes with no problems. He’s on his way back and hopefully he’ll be fully fit for the start of the season.”

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