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INTERVIEW: Unbelievably tough

1 May 2013

Manager on today's contract talks

United manager Greg Abbott admitted that this morning’s talks with his out-of-contract players had been one of the toughest situations he had faced since taking charge as manager on a permanent basis back in November 2008. 

“The players who have been offered contracts now have 30 days to consider their options before they make a response,” he said. “That’s only right and proper, and we obviously hope that all of them will decide to stay with us.

“We’ve seen what Lee [Miller] can do when he is fully fit and on top of his game and a full pre-season would give us that type of player as the focal point of our attack again.

“Danny [Livesey] has played really well alongside Sean O’Hanlon and he has earned the activation of the clause in his contract. We know what we get with him and he’s another who is really easy to work with.

“We think young Josh Todd is a good footballer and he’s been unlucky with the way his season panned out, particularly with the timing of his injury. However, if he stays with us it gives him an opportunity to show everyone what we get to see every day.

“Matt [Robson] is another who we don’t need to say too much about. He’s been excellent for us throughout my time here and he has the ability to play a number of roles. He’s a player who comes in, does his work and gets on with things to a very high standard all the time, and he’s fantastic to have around.

“Paul Thirlwell is an interesting one for us because he probably won’t play as many games as he has been as we go on into next season. He’s hugely respected in the dressing room and he has vast amounts of experience to pass on. We’re changing the way we do things on the coaching side next season, particularly when it comes to doing extra work with younger players or with those aspects of the game we think we need to concentrate on, and he will play a part in that. And, like I say, he also gives us an option with what he brings to the side if we feel we need to use him.”

On the players released, he added: “This has been the hardest day of my managerial career so far.

“The lads, to a man, were an absolute credit in the way they handled their individual meetings. Every one of them has put everything into this football club and there were no easy decisions at all. 

“We’ve had such a tight and close dressing room that I always knew this would be difficult, but it comes down to doing what you think is right from a football point of view. We’ve looked at the squad and what we want to do going forward and we needed to create a bit of space to freshen things up with some pace and energy. 

“We were able to shake hands with them all and, as I said earlier, I am sure they will all go on to be successful with whatever they do next.”

“It’s still too early to talk about individuals who have left us today, out of respect for the fantastic work and attitude they have shown us, but I fully understand that the decision to release Peter [Murphy] will bring reactions of all kinds.

“That was unbelievably tough because he has been part of everything we’ve done, and that goes back to long before I came to the club. He’s a real professional and it was very emotional to have to have that conversation with him. I did not find that easy at all.”

“Overall today has been a real drain on an emotional level,” he admitted. “The fact is that we are dealing with such good people that it is shattering to have to deliver bad news. 

“However, we have to dust ourselves down and move on. My staff and I have a number of games to attend this week as we start to finalise our plans for the squad next season. That work will go on until we have the pieces in place to give us the best chance of putting smiles back on faces next season.”

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