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INTERVIEW: In high spirits

6 September 2013

Manager ahead of the weekend

United manager Greg Abbott spoke to us ahead of the visit of Port Vale at the weekend.

“The team is definitely ready,” he insisted. “We’ve trained every day again this week and we’ve worked on different things - both attacking wise and defensively. 

“The lads have actually been coming into work with smiles on their faces and they’ve been looking forward to what they have to do rather than being frightened of everything. That’s what pressure can do to any player. If there is that edge of fear around then you can never work to the best of your ability. A lot of that has gone now because they’re starting to win people back.”

“If we can win on Saturday then we’ll bring even more people back and we can continue our progression of developing a decent side,” he continued. “I’m as confident as I can be about the game because a win is by no means a given. 

“Micky [Adams] is a great manager who has done fantastically well with Port Vale. They’ve lost a couple of games, so their tails will be a little bit down, but we’ll have to be at our best. We’ll have to work hard to stop them getting a foothold but I just think there’s a different mood this week and the lads are feeling excited and confident. It’s a different type of tension in the air and they can’t wait to get out there and get at the opposition.” 

“I think there has been a bit of trepidation with the group because they care about the game, the industry and their jobs,” he said. “We’ve tried to get rid of that and fill them with confidence and encouragement. Hopefully that will pay dividends for us. 

“Getting a result on Saturday is vital. We feel like we’re a better side at the moment because of the experience we’ve added and because the players have more of an understanding of what’s required. I think we’ll come out of the traps really quickly.”

“They’ve got to go out there and make life difficult when they’ve got the ball and when they haven’t,” he explained. “We still owe the fans some good performances, without a doubt. 

“We’ve given them a little bit back with the two away performances, but we want to give our home fans a reason to feel optimistic. The good thing is that three or four wins changes everything at this stage of the season. That’s what we’ll be going out there to do. 

“You live and die by your home form and we need to perform in front of them to get the crowds up to four, five and six thousand. They’ll come if they are going to see the type of football they want. At the moment that has been a problem for us. We need to start putting that right.”

“Our fans deserve some players who know what they’re doing and that’s why we moved to bring these lads in this week,” he said. “Troy [Archibald-Henville] and Leon [McSweeney] are hardened criminals, and Conor [Townsend] is one who has played 50 or 60 games at Conference and League Two level. He’s more able to deal with things because of that and they all fit into what we want to do within our financial framework. 

“We’ve been looking at depth to the squad all season and I’ve been saying all along that we were going to be thin on the ground if we had one or two injuries. That’s happened to us, so we’ve worked within our resources to try and put a tougher and stronger squad together.

“The young players we have will be terrific for the club but we need to protect them and develop them properly. They can crumble quicker in pressure situations because they haven’t come across anything like it before. 

“The fact that we’ve had so many injuries is the genuine reason as to why we haven’t found the consistency we’ve been looking for. We haven’t had a settled back four this season and it does affect things. We feel we’re just getting there now with the shape and style of play we want, but it really isn’t easy when you’re thin on the ground and you lose players who are just starting to bed in.

“I don’t want to offer too many excuses because, whatever the team, it hasn’t been as good defensively as it needs to be. The injuries have played a part in that but there are signs that we’re getting to where we want to be. We saw that at Colchester and Brentford and the key now is to carry that on.”

“It’s always important to get results but we probably surprised everybody with what we did last week,” he said. “We didn’t surprise ourselves because we know that when we have our senior players back we’re a good team. We’ll prove that in the coming weeks because we’re getting to a point where we have everybody available. The squad we’ve built, given everyone fit, is not a bad one.

“We’ll always have problems if we do have injuries, and that’s why I went banging the drum to get some replacements in. I’m probably quite a bit over budget now but the board have backed me as much as they could whenever I have asked them to. 

“I’d always like more players but I have to thank them for letting me bring one or two more in. The ceiling has pretty much been reached but I’ve had that backing I’ve asked for. We’ve managed to get some decent players in and the fans should thank the board for that, because they’ve helped our situation by helping us to get better. We’ve got to get results now to back all of that up.”

 “I thought the fans were pretty good with us against Leicester and they were outstanding on Saturday,” he agreed. “All they want to see is that type of performance. They’re desperate for a win, like we all are, but I think they’re starting to see that what we’ve been talking about is making a bit of sense.

“This weekend will be as tough a game as we’ve faced this season. They’ll challenge, fight and scrap and they’ll get the ball in the box at every opportunity. They have a manager who always finds a way of getting the best out of his players and we will certainly need to be ready to roll our sleeves up and fight and scrap. That’s why I like the physical presence we have at the back with Troy [Archibald-Henville] and Danny [Livesey]. They look like a good old fashioned pair of centre halves.

“We’re looking determined and in high spirits at the moment so hopefully that will be on show when we cross the white line on Saturday.”

United Player subscribers can see a video interview with Greg Abbott 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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