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MANAGER: Players have bought into it

24 October 2013

Graham Kavanagh on mindset within the group

Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us this morning about the change in mindset since he took over the permanent role in the hot seat just seven games ago.

"We've implemented quite a lot of changes in the structure and the manner in which we play,” he explained. “We're obviously still playing a 4-3-3 but we've really tried to capitalise on the strength and the pace we have at the top of the pitch while trying to add resilience at the other end. 

"It's vital that the players have bought into what we've been trying to do. I had a good chance to let the lads know I wasn't happy with their performance at Oldham on Sunday morning. They knew they needed to be better and fair play to them because they produced a very good performance on Tuesday night.” 

"There is a different atmosphere in the dressing room at the moment,” he said. “Confidence is very high but that happens when you're winning games. They understand everything we're asking them to do because they can see that it brings results. 

"The performance level has also gone up. We're a difficult side to break down, because we're very compact, and as long as the lads carry on doing their jobs and identifying where the danger is then we'll be a match for every single team in the league.” 

On the addition of Prince Buaben to the numbers, he said: "I think it was important that he was at the game with us on Tuesday night. It gave all of the players a lift. They know their position in the team is under threat and I think it brought an improved performance from a couple of the lads.

"We'll take a good look at Prince during training today and tomorrow but the win on Tuesday night means there isn't a lot of pressure on him in terms of being ready to play straight away. However, I would like to get him on the pitch at some point. He isn't match fit yet, because he hasn't played for a very long time, but these training sessions will be a good indicator of how far away he is.” 

"It's vital that we create competition for places,” he agreed. “James Berrett is back in contention but if players are going to get suspended willy nilly then they will be putting themselves in a bad situation. We’ve got quality in the group and it’s important that the discipline on and off the pitch is upheld. If it isn’t the players may find that they're in a position where they'll be replaced.”

And on the other relatively new arrival, he told us: "I have been surprised with Pascal [Chimbonda] in some ways. He hasn't played a game in a long time so for him to get up to speed as quickly as this has been very surprising. 

“That just shows how well he's looked after himself. I honestly didn't think he'd be able to play with this level of intensity. I did wonder what type of appetite he would have at this stage in his career because of where he's played in the past, but he’s adapted to the group extremely well. 

"We haven't talked about extended his deal yet because we're only focusing on what is happening now. I don't want to make any promises to players that I can't keep because we don't want to take anything for granted. 

“We know what Pascal is about as a player and as a man. The negotiations were very easy when he first arrived because he didn't ask for any money. He just wants to play football because that means he's in the shop window again. If he's still playing as well as he has done in the first two games in January then we will be looking to sign him and Pascal is well aware of that.” 

"I've said it before but John [Nixon] and Andrew [Jenkins] have been fantastic when I've asked for players,” he confirmed. “I know people will look at the team and think that we're winning, but I want to keep improving the squad. I don't just want to have 11 or 12 players that are guaranteed to play every week. If we have a strong bench and players who are all ready to play then it can only be a good thing for the team. 

“I’m always looking to strengthen and hopefully we can do more stuff in January in particular. Other things will need to happen to help with that because I do know that we’re probably coming to the end of what we can do at the moment. We need to stay in the cup competitions and have a good cup run, and hopefully the results and performances will bring fans back. 

“There is more work I want to do, not just on transfers and players but behind the scenes with the sports science stuff. I think that’s important for the work we want to do with the group we have, but we can only do things if the finances are right. Like I say, hopefully things will continue to fall into place and we’ll be able to move things on in all areas.”

United Player subscribers can see a video interview with Graham Kavanagh now. Click HERE to go to the Player platform. Follow the same link for more information on United Player, and to subscribe.

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