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INTERVIEW: Keep the run going

17 October 2013

Manager Graham Kavanagh ahead of the weekend

United manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us ahead of the trip to Oldham at the weekend as he challenged his squad to maintain their unbeaten run.

“I think a big thing I will learn going forward into this weekend is about the drive of the group,” he told us. “We’ve had the momentum broken in terms of game time, with the postponement last weekend, but it was a good opportunity to get the players rested and refreshed. 

“We gave them some time off and it’ll be interesting to see if that gets rewarded. If we don’t get the level of performance we expect then that’s something we’ll look into going forward. We’re passing the baton back across to the players, as we do every week. We’ll prepare them as we always do and it’ll be up to them to match the standards they have already set for themselves.”

“We want to keep this run going,” he continued. “I watched Oldham a few weeks ago when they played Port Vale and they are a hard working side. 

“It was a close game to start with but I came away thinking about how hard they worked for each other. That’s something we’ve done to opposition teams over the last few weeks and it’s something we will have to match this weekend.”

“Obviously we’re away from home and this will be a difficult game,” he added. “They are playing in a very progressive manner and it’s very much what we’re trying to do. They are buying into what they are being asked to do, so it will be a tough one. It’s one for us to look forward to, particularly if we play the way we know we can.”

“Depending on what happens in training over the next few days we might have Lee Miller available within the squad,” he said. “Mark Beck is back from his Scotland duties, so he’s another one who adds to our numbers, so things are looking better in terms of strength and depth.

“We won’t have Chris Chantler for this weekend but he played another game on Tuesday with our U18 squad, against Middlesbrough, and he’s getting better and better slowly but surely. 

“He’s gaining confidence with his ankle so we will have one or two nice selection problems coming our way in the near future. I keep telling the players it’s up to them. They get an opportunity every single day in training and if they perform better than their team mate, and they add quality, drive and consistency, then they will be noticed. 

“The staff sit down every day after training and we reflect on how the session has gone, where we can improve and who has done well. A picture gets painted from that and nobody is ever out of it. By the same token, if you are in the eleven then make sure you do all you can to stay there. If you aren’t involved then it means you have to work that bit harder.”

Talking about his first six weeks as manager, he said: “It’s what I expected and wanted it to be, and more. It really has been brilliant. Everybody has got behind what we asked and they are all striving to improve. 

“There is no better feeling than winning games and playing well for your supporters so hopefully there will be much more of that to come. I think our fans will always react well, whatever the result, if they see that we are giving it everything. We demand that from our players and they should demand it of themselves.

“If we keep producing it then I have no doubt the fans will come back to watch us. We want an environment at Brunton Park where opposing teams feel intimidated because this is a tough place to come when everyone is behind us. It hasn’t been that way for a while but we know we have to play our part and give everyone plenty to shout about.

“It is an away game this weekend but our performances matter just as much when it comes to getting the belief back. We’ve created a bit of a buzz and we want to keep that going.”

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