MANAGER: It's a long process

Graham Kavanagh on the Boreham Wood game

United manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the FA Cup victory over Boreham Wood on Tuesday evening.

“We won, even though we weren’t pretty, and I thought our first half was very, very poor,” he said. “The second half was much better and I thought we passed the ball in the manner we wanted to, even though we didn’t work the keeper enough until the last ten minutes. 

“We’re obviously very pleased to be involved in the next round and I’m pleased with the spirit of the group. We kept going for 90 minutes but the FA Cup does do strange things. We have to give Boreham credit because they were very honest in the way they worked and they gave us a difficult game.” 

“The longer a game like that goes on and you haven’t scored the more you think about whether you are going to get anything at all,” he continued. “We eventually got the first goal, then Matt Robson hit the bar, and that’s when we felt that maybe the luck had changed. Again, we do have to say that we hadn’t passed the ball well enough and we didn’t play with the intelligence we want to see.” 

“It was a frustrating night overall and I took quite a bit of stick from the fans behind us,” he commented. “There was a lot of impatience, quite a bit of anxiety and a fair bit of anger. That’s fair enough because they pay their money and they are well entitled to speak their mind. 

“I’ve said all week that it’s important for us to at least get into the second round to give us some finances and hopefully I will now get some of that money to add to the squad in a few areas.”

“I totally understand that the fans want success and they want to see their team winning, but the longer they can stay with us the better it is for everyone,” he added. “When I first took over we hadn’t won in six games and this is basically the same group of players. We’ve got one or two in and we are slowly trying to turn the mindset of the group round. We’re putting the building blocks in place but we aren’t quite where we want to be at this moment in time.”

Speaking about the scenes at the end of the game, he said: “I spoke to the lads to find out what went on because I was actually going to have a go at Liam Noble. But the senior players explained what had been said, and things like that, and it looks like their midfield player had been giving our players a lot of stick, especially when they were winning. Some ugly comments had been made but, having said that, the only way to get retribution is to score goals and to win the game. Thankfully we did that.”

“I thought the tactics we used were good in this game,” he told us. “We had 4-4-2, then we switched things with James Berrett coming on and he made a really good impact. 

“When you move things around you need the players to understand what their role is and that’s why it’s going to be a long process for us. The way we want to play at the moment is very much a pass and move style of football. We want to create the overloads as much as we possibly can but we certainly didn’t do that in this game. We looked nervous and edgy and we looked a little bit frightened in the first half. It is the FA Cup, and they have everything to gain and we have everything to lose, but that’s where the bravery comes in. We were better at it in the second half but it still wasn’t to the levels we want.”

“We had no choice but to leave Prince [Buaben] out because he has an illness,” he explained. “We’re not too sure how he’ll be heading into the weekend but we hope he’ll definitely be back on Tuesday for Crewe. 

“Josh [Gillies] is one who could possibly have been on the bench, but he hasn’t been involved recently, and we have the situation with Conor Townsend in mind. If things had been going well in the game we’d have been able to get Chris Chantler on, bearing in mind that Conor leaves us at the end of the month. 

“People will always have opinions on who should play or who should be on the bench but these lads have got to produce every single day, and they have to stamp their personality on the sessions so that they make me believe they are ready to play a part. We have a few who need to step up, and quickly, because this game doesn’t wait for anybody.

“The players have to understand that every day matters. The way they eat, train, rest and prepare really matters. They then have to have the intelligence to recognise when situations will go their way during a game and when to implement it. It won’t always work, but if we keep working hard then we’ll get there. I just hope the fans stay with us, which I’m sure they will.”

On keeper Greg Fleming, he said: “His penalty save has ultimately kept us in the game and the competition. He’s been out of the picture but he has worked incredibly hard with Tony Caig ever since he joined us and he has improved massively. I didn’t think he quite looked the part when he first got here but he definitely does now. 

“He played a huge part with his save and with the way he worked with the back four and he is an important member of our group. It was a first class effort and a very good performance from him. He’s given us plenty to think about in terms of team selection going forward.”

“Obviously the other positive from this game is that we are still the FA Cup,” he concluded. “It’s massive for every club because it’s an opportunity to get money into the coffers straight away. That prize money gets bigger as you go on and that enables you to do work with the squad. We have Brentford at home to look forward to in the next round so we’ll get ready for that and hopefully progress to the stage where the big clubs get involved.”
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