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MANAGER: Win the battles first

10 August 2014

The manager on the Luton Town game

Manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the opening game of the season shortly after full time on Saturday.

“It’s really disappointing that we came away with nothing,” he said. “The first half performance wasn’t anywhere near the level we expect. 

“I’ve got to sit down and look at the DVD and ask the questions as to why that happened. Three at the back is a system we’ve used all the way through pre-season but we didn’t really have the bravery to get on the ball in this game and we didn’t expect to see that. 

“We put an extra man at the top end of the pitch in the second half and we looked far more effective. We just couldn’t give the fans a goal which is something I am really annoyed about, particularly when we’ve had 6,700 people through the gate.

“I know we’re a work in progress but I’m still very disappointed that we couldn’t get some kind of result. I think a lesson we all learn is that pre-season is brilliant, but there’s nothing at stake. The opening day of any season is always difficult because you’re expected to perform. Maybe that was a burden the players struggled with in the first half.”

“We’ve had a very confident pre-season but I didn’t think we brought that to the party at all in the first half,” he continued. “It was a very negative approach from the players and I couldn’t really tell you why that was the case. The warm up was very good, the approach through the week was very good, and the work we did on tactics left us feeling very positive.

“I had words at half time, asked a couple of questions, changed a few things round and I looked at the shape. I took Danny [Grainger] off and that was no fault of his own. That was simply down to me wanting to see us do things differently. With the number of chances we created after the break we probably should have scored. We didn’t, but we dust ourselves off and go again.”

“The intensity we played in the second half was good but I still think we can move the ball better than we did,” he insisted. “It’s the bravery and courage we keep talking about. We need the players to want the ball and to want to make space for themselves and for their team mates. 

“There is a case of needing a little bit of patience, with it being a new team, but we also have to understand that we need points on the board. We’ve got to find the right formula and make sure we don’t suffer from slow starts. We were way too deep in the first half and we didn’t hold the ball up in the top areas enough. That created a big space for Luton to work in but we closed the gaps and competed much better in the second half.”

“I absolutely understand that the fans are upset that we lost,” he said. “A lot of them have stayed away for a period of time and they are now coming back to support the club. They’ve come along to this game full of optimism and, as the manager of this club, I’m disappointed I couldn’t give them what they wanted. We’re going to work every single minute of every day to make this better and I’m sure we will grow and improve.

“The supporters were magnificent for us and I could feel the same level of frustration and disappointment from them as we had in the dug out. I did sense and smell a bit of fear in our lads in the first half and I was surprised by that.

“So, it is disappointing that we couldn’t get them a goal, at the very least, but I hope they stick with us and I hope they understand where we want to take this club. I think we’ve assembled a very good group of players but the lads need to buy in quickly to what this league is about. You have to win the battles first and then you can play your football.”

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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