Graham Kavanagh on the Tuesday night friendly
Manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the Sunderland friendly game on Tuesday night.
“I thought it was a really good performance overall with lots of positives for us to take away,” he said.
“We asked for a performance before the game because it was important for us that we got it. I thought we managed to hold our own even though we looked a little bit tired towards the end of the game.”
“The energy levels for the first 60 or 65 minutes were really good and we got the type of workout we wanted,” he added. “There are obviously areas of the pitch where we need to try and improve but I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far.
“We didn’t manage to take our chances but I’m hoping that’s something we’ll rectify. They were able to make a lot of changes in the second half, which freshened things up for them, but we have a new group and you can see that they are coming together quickly.
“The way they are working for each other is very encouraging. We’re looking to build and improve on it now but it does bode well at the moment.”
“It was a really good attendance and the energy from the crowd behind me was magnificent,” he commented. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a result. It’s not about winning games in pre-season, it’s about pitch time, but I think you always want to win if at all possible.
“A lot of people came to see what we’re all about and I hope they have gone away feeling pleased. It’s tinged with disappointment because we didn’t get that win, but the ten or twelve chances we created give us all good food for thought.”
And on the impact the Sunderland U21 subs had on the game, he said: “I was very impressed with their attitude and I’m sure it’s exactly what Gus [Poyet] wanted to see.
“He said before the game he was going to do that with the young lads and their approach was superb. Having said that, I know not all of them can play once the season starts so I’m going to go and watch a few of them and, who knows, maybe we can nick one or two.
“Work on recruitment is ongoing. I’m not going to sign someone just for the sake of it because I want to get the decision right. However, I do definitely want to get a striker in before the start of the season.”
“When you’re assembling a team you look to the style of play and the way they apply themselves, and you ask questions about whether or not it will all come together,” he explained. “When you see games like this one, where it has been good and exciting, then it gives everyone a real buzz.
“I think I said after Saturday that a lot of this season is going to be about rolling our sleeves up. We got that against a very good side but it’s going to be about doing that against some very strong and physical teams once we get into the season. That’s what League Two will demand.
“I’ve told the players we have to learn quickly how to be an aggressive team without the ball. I know we didn’t have the personnel to do that at times last season and it was more position over possession. We now have a desire and energy to close things down further up the pitch and we want to build on that.”
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