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INTERVIEW: A new energy

19 September 2013

Graham Kavanagh on an upbeat week at the club

Caretaker manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us about a very upbeat week of training ahead of the trip to Stevenage at the weekend.

“The mood around the squad has been excellent,” he said. “It’s been very upbeat, as it has been since I took over last Monday, and that’s because we have tried to take the pressure off the players. 

“I’ve been very pleased with the response and it’s always good, as a manager or a coach, to see the players do what you’ve asked them to do out on the pitch. We set out almost like a counter-attacking away team last weekend and it was very effective for us.”

“We’ve asked all of the senior players to get on board with what we’re trying to do because they often set the tone,” he continued. “They knew we had some new and fresh ideas and that the sessions were going be a little bit longer, but they’ve set the right example and it’s looking good going forward.

“I do put high demands on myself and the players but I think that’s how it has to be. I know I get judged on results but I am judging my staff and players on consistency. At the moment that is first class.”

“For whatever reason you do see a bit of a change when a new manager comes in,” he agreed. “There’s a new energy round the place and we’ve tried to take the pressure away and get them enjoying their football again.

“I’ve been asked to do a job and I don’t think there’s any real feeling of pressure on me other than we want to win games for the football club. I think pressure comes from within and it also comes from the worry of not being able to do the job. I have belief in the group and I feel that if they give me what they gave me last weekend then we’ll have enough to win most games.”

“I know the strengths and weaknesses of the players and I know their characters, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “I know the makeup of the group and I know where it needs to be strengthened. The hope is that everyone connected with the club will strive harder to get better. 

“As I said last week, our season started as a 40-game season against Sheffield United. We had a great week last week and hopefully we’ll be taking six points from six. I’ll keep planning ahead with everything we’re doing as if I’ll be carrying on with this again after the Stevenage game, because we have to keep the club moving forward.

“John [Nixon] gave me a list of what he needed me to do on Tuesday morning and that’s the first time I have been privy to anything like that. He told me the club was really pleased with how we are doing and he did also tell me that a year ago they didn’t really feel that I was ready to take things on. 

“He said he’d seen a change in me and he thought I was doing the job well enough to be given a go at what I’m doing now. If I’d carried things on as they were before last Monday then they’d probably have been a little bit disappointed because I wouldn’t have been showing anyone any of my own ideas. 

“I felt last week that this might be the one and only opportunity I will get to do this, and I was determined to do it my way. That doesn’t mean to say that what I’m doing is right or wrong, but it worked for us last weekend and hopefully this will be the way we work going forward.”

“The circumstances in which I have come into this position aren’t nice,” he admitted. “I haven’t had too much time to think about it with the way it has all gone and I feel each day that I’m growing into the position.

“I’m learning more and more and I’m dealing with things all the time which are real eye-openers. There are personal situations where you have to look at and deal with the upset someone might be going through, so it is a steep learning curve.

“Even when it comes to timings, I’m trying to stick to them but you always seem to overrun with everything. There’s always something else to think about or do and your time is at a premium. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day but I’ve really enjoyed it and I feel like I’m improving at the job every day. To the credit of everyone they are right behind all three of us and they are hoping that we get the position.” 

“The phone never stops going and I think Greg [Abbott] used to shield me from a lot of what went on,” he said. “He took all of the emails and phone calls from agents and players and we’re also going out to as many games as we can. You’re always looking for opportunities and for areas where we can improve and everything you do is for the good of the football club.”

“First and foremost I want the job,” he said. “Before that, our short term goal is to the win the game at the weekend. That’s vitally important. I’ve given the players a target and that should keep them on their toes and in focus. 

“I keep hearing all these names and different things but I’m just letting it wash over me. I’m just getting on with the job I have to do and I’m trying to enjoy it. I’m trying to embrace the fact that it’s an opportunity for me and I really am enjoying every minute. 

“It could still go either way but I want to be selfish and I want to get the job. I’ve told the players to be selfish and to make sure they are keeping clean sheets and getting victories.” 

“If somebody else gets the job I’m not going to sit and sulk or cry about it,” he insisted. “I’ll be disappointed, of course I will, but I have a vision and I have an idea about how I am going to take the club forward. If somebody else was to take over then I’d still offer my opinion on that. 

“I can’t look over my shoulder and wonder about who is going to get it, and whether I will be part of it. I’m just going to give it my best shot and, at this moment in time, I’m doing the best I can possibly do."

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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