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MANAGER: Unlucky not to win

19 April 2014

The manager on the Walsall game

Manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the 1-1 draw with Walsall on Good Friday. 

"I'm feeling proud of the players," he said. "We had a difficult week after the result last Saturday and it has been hard to turn the belief around, and give the players confidence, but I think they showed that today. 

"We were unlucky not to win the game. If we'd managed to get the second goal we would have went on to win comfortably. We're disappointed that we conceded as late as we did but we're very pleased with the performance from the players considering where they were after the game last week.

"You could argue we deserved to win because we hit the bar three or four times. I know they hit the post but I thought we had the better chances overall. Dean Smith has done a tremendous job there and all credit to them, they have had an absolutely fabulous season."

"I knew it was going to be a difficult game today," he continued. "I also knew we were going to have to pick the lads up and get some belief back after last week. 

"Once we scored the first goal we dropped off and we sat back. We tried to protect the lead but that wasn’t the game plan. That is probably a little bit of human nature because players are so desperate to see the job through and human instinct dictates you drop off." 

"Other results have gone for us so it wasn’t a must win game because we've got a game in hand. If we manage to equal or better what everybody else does on Monday we then come into a home fixture against Oldham which we will be looking to win."

"I brought Courtney [Meppen-Walter] off because I wanted to change the formation," he revealed. "With us playing 3-5-2 I was concerned that our two wing-backs weren’t engaging their wide men early enough and I didn’t want it to become a 5-3-2. 

"I was going to make the change at half time, but I decided to leave it, and I thought the best thing to do to engage their full-backs would be to go to a 4-3-3. I needed to take a centre half off and I thought Reece Brown came in and did particularly well."

"The lads are exhausted," he said. "When you're a team in the position Walsall are you don’t carry any nervous energy. You have a real freedom to be able to express yourself and go and play. We're not at that stage at the moment because we're scrapping for our lives. The nervous energy the players experience can fatigue you.

"We showed some inexperience towards the end of the game. David Symington got the ball with six or seven minutes to go, he ran at the full-back and Brad Potts thought he needed to overlap him. Dave crossed it, we lost the ball and that left Pottsy with an 80-yard run rather than him being in a position to aggressively try and recycle the second ball or pick up the pieces to get a shot away.

"The players are learning on the job and that little bit of inexperience and know-how showed at times. We can’t fault them for that. I had Dave [Symington] and Pottsy in the office yesterday and we had a very good chat. They're both doing everything they can and giving their absolute maximum, and I think you could see they were dead on their feet today."

"I thought Liam Noble played very well," he commented. "He was as much of a threat going forward as I've seen for a long time. He's prepared to get his shots off and support the play and he's been a bonus for us. 

"I think we need to remember that David [Amoo] has had the best season he's ever had. He's probably feeling it fatigue wise and I think the fans expect a lot from him because of the way he played at the start of the season. They expect him to be the match winner every week and that won't always be the case. We'll put our arm round him again now and make him believe that he can be as good as he has been. 

"All of the lads are disappointed because we conceded so late, but we've had a bit of a pick me up because the rest of the results have gone for us. We still have the game in hand at Crawley so it's all still to play for. It's a 46-game season and we've all got to believe in ourselves to make sure we get over the line. It's frustrating that we haven't won the game but all we can do is regroup and focus on Monday."

"I have got options," he said. "I think Lee [Miller] is fit to start, Robbo [Matt Robson] is telling me he's fit to start but I haven't seen that in training. We'll have a look at who is available and take it from there.  

"Sean O'Hanlon is a doubt for Monday and Paul Thirlwell was stretching his calf after the game. I'm hoping Thir is ok but we had Pascal Chimbonda limping at the end as well. He was limping last week and managed to get through training, so we'll have to wait and see with that one. Chris Chantler has got ice on him, James Berrett is icing his groin ... there are a few but they're all throwing their bodies on the line.

"I still believe that we will do it. I have to believe it and I have to give the players the confidence to go out there and do the job for us. They're good enough, they've shown that, and we all have to now work hard to show it again."

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.

Click HERE 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.

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