Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Rotherham game
We spoke to manager Graham Kavanagh ahead of the visit of Rotherham on Saturday.
“I think we have to give the respect that’s due to Rotherham,” he said. “They’ve done particularly well since their promotion last season and they’ve built on the confidence they had.
“They’ve invested heavily in their squad and they’ve done that very, very well. They have a lot of belief in what they do but, here at home, we tend do well against teams who play football. We’ve used different strategies and different tactics but ultimately we always look to be narrow off the shape and to be defensively sound. We want to do the same at the weekend but we want to be expressive in possession. Hopefully that will mean that we will work the opposition.”
“I think the biggest thing for me over the last few weeks has been the application of the players,” he continued. “They’ve adapted to two different systems and the lads did particularly well against Bradford to deal with the affect we thought Hanson would have. We looked good going forward as well, so there were a lot of positives for us.
“On Tuesday night we changed things again and it was a completely different game. We went with a diamond, with two up top, and I thought the players showed they really understood the system, particularly in the second half. That gives us a couple of options for the weekend and that’s something we will sit down and make a decision on today.”
“I hope the fans get behind what we’re trying to do and that they come back and support us,” he said. “We are trying to be effective and we’re trying to produce good football for them. We’ve managed it in the last few games and we very much hope that we can do it for them again on Saturday.
“If we do get three points we can start looking up the table rather than down. That would make everyone feel a lot happier and brighter around the place. We’ve given ourselves a platform so now we have to build on it.
“It’s a chicken and egg situation because we need them as much as they want us to be successful. We need them to come through the gate for that to happen and we appreciate that they’re paying their hard earned money when they do that.
“If we can get as many back as we can it enables me to invest more in the squad. That should, in turn, allow me to find players who can perform at a better level more consistently. That’s why it’s important that the fans do buy into what we’re trying to sell them. We do need a bit of patience and understanding because we’re trying to change the way we play, but I hope they find that it’s a very enjoyable experience. We’ve got 16 games left now to convince them that we are the right people to take this forward.”
“By nature I am very impatient and I want everything to happen yesterday,” he added. “I now know and understand things a lot clearer than before I got the job. It is a much slower process than you want it to be because it all takes money and time. You’ve got to put personnel into positions who you know can do the job you need, from recruitment to analysis and sports science, because that adds to the bigger picture of helping you to get that success.”
“We go again for another good performance on Saturday,” he said. “Rotherham have played a 4-4-2 in the past and I would imagine that’s what they’ll do again. They score goals and they look defensively strong, and they certainly manage to score more than they concede.
“They’ve made some very good signings and they do have a real belief in where they’re going. They’ve moved into the new stadium and gone from strength to strength, so I’m expecting a tough game. We’ve gone back to back with victories, which is really pleasing, and it would be good to get three in a row again. We’ve got some really bright and intelligent players in the group at the moment and that bodes well for the run in.”
“I think Paul Thirlwell and James Berrett will miss out,” he confirmed. “Mark Gillespie has started to do a little bit of proper training over the last few days and that is great to see. We had one or two knocks from Tuesday night but people are recovering from that. Liam Noble rolled his ankle but I think he’ll be fine.”
And on the return of keeper Adam Collin to Brunton Park, he said: “I thought Big Ad was outstanding. I know he took some criticism but he went a hell of a way to helping us to get the success we enjoyed. His saves in the JPT competition to get us to the Southampton final were vital and that was the same the second time round when we went on to win it.
“He’s a local lad, and I’m sure he’ll take a bit of stick because of that, but it will be nice to see him back. However, I hope he has a stinker and then gets back to his good self after our game.”
“Life is always good when you’re getting results and winning games,” he concluded. “It’s nice to go into the weekend game full of confidence. We’ve had good form and performances at home so we go into this one in really high spirits.”
United Player subscribers can see a series of video interviews 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.