Graham Kavanagh on Preston and moving on
Manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his thoughts on the away defeat at Preston and on an important week ahead.
“Saturday was an extremely bad day in terms of result and performance,” he said. “We’ve been decent over the last few weeks, with four clean sheets in five performances, and that’s why we can’t even begin to know where Saturday came from.
“It was embarrassing and definitely one I didn’t see coming. We’ve done a lot of soul searching and we’ve asked a lot of questions of each other as to why that performance happened. It was difficult to watch and it was horrible to be part of it. I can only apologise to the fans because it quite simply isn’t good enough.
“We did have a couple of players who played and they perhaps shouldn’t have,” he explained. “I think that showed in the performance and in the way we were as a team. I’ve asked them to put their bodies on the line but they’ve got to be intelligent enough to know if they can do the job or not. If they can’t then somebody else has to step in and do it.”
“It’s important that we get back on the horse quickly and that we face our demons,” he added. “We have to pull together as a group and try to put it right. To be fair, the lads have been bright and upbeat since Sunday and that’s good to see.
“It’s all about Friday and that is now a very big game. All five of the games left will be big in their own right because the fact is that we need to get results. We’re at a point now where we have to win games. To do that we have to play more in the opposition half and we have to be much braver with the ball.
“I thought we’d eradicated this type of performance but we were suddenly heavy legged and lethargic. Then, when you go a couple of goals down, you start thinking about the table and the consequences of a defeat. That does have a big impact. Hopefully we’ll get over this and we’ll have enough quality to see it through.”
“The work will be done over the next few days and I have to believe that we will get a much better performance against Walsall,” he commented. “Staying in this league is our target and I think it’s vitally important that we do that. I didn’t think it was going to be an issue but some of the frustrating performances have reared their heads again and we’ve slipped up because of it.
“We’ve had a number of injuries to key players, which hasn’t helped, and that impacted greatly on confidence and continuity. We now find ourselves in a position with five games to go where we have to pull it out of the bag.
“I know what these players are capable of when they play well and that’s where my frustration comes from. I hope I don’t have to motivate anyone this week because they should have that in themselves. I know I’ll have to put an arm round a few of them and try to get them back to where they were confidence wise, and that’s something we can implement on the training pitch on a daily basis. I’ve had one to one meetings with a few, to talk over a few things, because everyone needs to remember what’s at stake.
“We have five games left to play and it’s not a time for people to be bailing out on us. I understand confidence is low after a defeat like that but we have to give it our best and put it right. On a personal level, I don’t want to be a first-time manager who takes a club down. I don’t want to be part of that at all. God forbid, if that was to happen then it’s something we will have to readdress in the summer. Whatever decisions are made we would have to stick by them, be strong and move forward as a club.
“Fans are bound to have their concerns and it’s up to me to do my job and change the opinion of those who are maybe questioning whether or not I can do the job. We’ve had a lot of circumstances this season which have had an impact on why we are where we are, but I’m sure a lot of managers will say that.
“We’ve had the injuries at bad times and we were in a position where we couldn’t strengthen in the manner we wanted to in the January transfer window. They may or may not be excuses, but they are relevant to why we are where we are right now. We need to face the challenge in front of us and if we do come out of the other side then I have no doubt we will be better for it.”
“The injury situation is one we’ll have to look at day by day,” he said. “Paul Thirlwell is carrying a calf injury, but he was fine on Saturday. Sean O’Hanlon has a groin problem and Pascal Chimbonda has been carrying a slight knock on his calf. Both Sean and Pascal assured me on Saturday morning that they were good to go but I’ve now made a conscious decision that if a player isn’t 100% fit and able to do the job then they aren’t going to play.
“A situation like this needs players who are going to be leaders and who are going to take responsibility. It needs players who understand what the outcome could be, but they face up to it, deal with it and don’t fear it. If you do that one game at a time you can see what the picture is after each performance and go again for the next one.”
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.
to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.