Graham Kavanagh on the immediate future
In the second part of our interview with caretaker manager Graham Kavanagh he spoke about the preparations for this weekend’s important fixture against Sheffield United.
“We’ve made sure the lads have worked really hard this week,” he said. “It’s important they understand the need to do the job away from the emotional side of losing someone from the dressing room they respected so much.
“That’s where it came down to myself, Davie Irons and Tony Caig to pick things up very quickly. We were called into the boardroom on Monday morning to see if we would take the job on for the immediate future and we were all comfortable with doing that.”
“It has been as upbeat a week as we could make it and we’ve tried as much as possible to keep the feelings of pressure away from the players,” he continued. “We want them to play and do things with the shackles off. I’ve told them the worst thing that can happen is that they lose the game. We’ve already been losing so we might as well try to play with no fear and, if we can, let’s get out there and enjoy it.
“We’re still in contention in the league because there are 40 games to go. That’s the way we have to approach it. We aren’t totally adrift at the bottom of the table and one win at the weekend makes things look much better.
“If we manage that then we’ll start to win a few fans back, because we definitely have something to prove to them. They’ve had it tough as well, but it’s up to us to make them believe in us again and to give them something to shout about. We really do want to put the situation right.”
On the assistance he’s had since Monday’s departure of former-boss Greg Abbott, he said: “The staff at the club have been different class all week. Everyone has done everything they can to help and to put us into a position where we can pick this up and go on.
“From a very difficult start on Monday morning, where quite a few of the players were visibly upset because they felt they’d let the manager down, we have come to a situation where there is a really vibrant and positive group who want to do things right for everyone.
“That attitude came into Tuesday and Wednesday and I’ve had full support from the first team staff [Davie Irons, Tony Caig, Neil Dalton and Colin Nixon] with everything I’ve done. I’ve genuinely walked away from every day feeling that I’ve gained something and that the group has felt the same.
“It’s always positive but, and as much as Monday to Friday matters, it only gets real for all of us when it comes to that 90 minutes on Saturday. We want to give a good, honest account of ourselves and we want to match that with some flair and ability. We want the lads to play with confidence and, if they achieve that, then everything else will shine through and we’ll get the right result.”
When asked about the vacant managerial position, he replied: “It is something I would be interested in, most definitely. Greg [Abbott] spoke to me on Monday and he told me that it was my opportunity to take the bull by the horns, to lay down my marker and to do things my way.
“There is no right and wrong way, other than to get results, so the work I have done since Monday afternoon has been with that in mind. If we do get a result on Saturday then we could find a situation where it buys me a bit of time to stake even more of a claim. That’s what I intend to do but I’m certainly not looking any further than Saturday and Sheffield United at the moment.
“This is a big game for us all and it’s about more than me and what I might want to do.”
“We’re well aware that Sheffield United have some good players but we’re also aware that they are struggling a bit. They are only two points above us and, if we win, that gap is clawed back and we move up.
“Both teams will be feeling a bit fragile at the moment and it will come down to who handles the situation better on the day. I’m hopeful that we will take the pressure off our group and we will go on to win the game.”
“It definitely helps that we know the group so well because we understand the strengths and weaknesses and we know how they react to certain situations,” he confirmed. “We do have options at the weekend which weren’t there for Greg, due to injuries and things like that, and everyone is in contention until we make our final decisions ahead of Saturday.
“There’s a lot of food for thought but I see that as a very good sign. We’re all just looking forward to it now and, hopefully, to getting the result everyone needs.”