Graham Kavanagh on the weekend victory
Caretaker manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the weekend victory over Sheffield United shortly after full time on Saturday.
“It was a great result and we couldn’t have asked for any more,” he said. “It’s been a difficult week and it was very upsetting for everybody when the manager left on Monday. The last thing he said to us was that he wanted us to do our best to get a win as a parting gesture.
“That was the message to the group because one or two of them felt like they had let him down. We did get the result and it’s a victory we all wanted.”
“The harsh reality is that a lot of the younger players haven’t seen anybody lose their job before,” he added. “They see it as just football, but it’s an industry where we all know the consequences. It was my job to address the group and to ask them for more. I told them that I was going to demand more from them day after day.
“We got that and it’s brought us our first win, with a clean sheet and from an unbelievably hard working performance. We’re really pleased about that.”
Speaking about the support from the terraces, he said: “The big thing from our point of view for this game was that every time there was a lull, the fans got behind us.
“They sang and encouraged at the right times and there were smiles on a lot of faces. I know results help with that but it just felt the omens and the Gods were smiling on us today. The sun was shining and I hope people are starting to believe again that they have a huge part to play in making this place a fortress. I want to say a big thank you to the fans because they played a big part in this win.”
“Before the game I told the lads that we have good players and a very good group here,” he explained. “I wanted to make it clear that we have just started a 40-game season.
“The message was to start afresh and to get the shackles off. That’s easier said than done, but it’s worked for them today and we go again on Tuesday when will start to demand more and more from them.
“The support I’ve had from the staff this week has been immense. I couldn’t have done it without them. The attitude of the group has been superb and they’ve produced and showed that they are well capable of it.
“There have been so many well wishers and I went into the stands before kick off just to see how everyone was thinking. At the end of the day the fans just want the best for their football club.
“I told the lads that if we were going to lose then we had to lose having given it everything. If we do that then the fans will get behind us. We need to win their trust and we need to get them back onside. Hopefully we can do that by playing in this way.”
“I do want to say a huge thank you to Greg [Abbott],” he told us. “I’ve spoken to him for advice a couple of times this week and that’s the type of man he is. He’s at the end of the phone when he could quite easily blank me. He’s not that type of character and all he ever wanted was to do his best in very difficult circumstances when he was here.
“I think we now need to get away from the negativity and the difficult circumstances and make the place as positive as it can be. Let’s try and get this juggernaut roiling again in the right direction.”
“I do want to take it forward from here and I would love to be given the opportunity to do that,” he admitted. “But today wasn’t about that. Today was about doing a job for the football club and asking the players to perform to the levels we have been asking for. To a man they did that.
“It was one of those days where you can sense and feel the energy. I was completely calm with myself because I was confident that the lads had responded to everything they had been asked to do.
“The doubt I had in my mind was that they’d done that for the gaffer and not produced on the Saturday, for whatever reason. We didn’t want them to complicate anything and we wanted them to play without fear.
“We wanted to be passing the ball in the opposition half as much as possible and we knew our quality would shine through. I thought the work rate we got was first class and they deserve a massive pat on the back. You get your rewards for determination, drive and attitude in this game and that’s what they got from this one.”
And on team selection issues, he said: “There were some difficult decisions to be made and there were some disappointed players who probably felt like they should have been playing. I asked them to deal with that because it’s vital that they’re onside with everything we’re trying to do. We got the result and hopefully this is the start of bigger and better things for us all.
“We have set targets in the dressing room but I’m not going to say publically what they are,” he said. “We’ve talked about targets between now and Christmas and if we can manage to hit them then who knows where it will take us. It’s something that is achievable, I believe, with this group.
“I’m not going to get carried away though because it’s just one game. It could all come crashing down around us next week.
“But if the lads keep giving us the application and the quality, and if we keep demanding more from each other, then we’ll hopefully get to where we want to be. With a start like this we’re certainly going in the right direction.
“I’m going to enjoy the weekend now because it’s been a tough week. I had my family here today because they know the pressure I’ve put myself under. I’ll spend some time with them and we’ll wait and see what decision comes. That could be on Monday, Tuesday – they could leave it another week to see if we’re capable of doing it again ... who knows? However it goes the good thing is that we’ve done a good job for the club today. What will be, will be.”
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