Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Port Vale game
Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us ahead of the weekend trip to face Port Vale.
“The lads who came into the side last week have now shown us they can perform on a one-off basis,” he said. “The challenge now is for them to show us they can do it consistently.
“Can they go back-to-back and play well again? Can they show consistency of performance and intelligence? Can they continue to give us the quality we’re going to need? These are all questions they have to answer for themselves and for us.”
“I think our fans responded so well last weekend because they are very knowledgeable,” he added. “They understood that we were up against a very good side. The players surprised one or two people and they implemented the game plan to the letter. We’ll need to show the same attention to detail going forward because we can’t be taking our foot off the gas. If we do, that’s when we come unstuck.
“I’ve always said, and I will continue to say, that it’s about what we do that matters. We’ve had a good away win at Coventry recently and that should help the players. It’s important that the focus is on what we can affect, and that’s the team we are playing against. We will focus on our strengths and weaknesses and we’ll try to take the game to Port Vale as much as possible.”
“Teams who come up usually have momentum and they start the season well,” he commented. “Port Vale have done that and there is no doubt this will be a difficult game. We all now know what they are capable of and they have some fantastic players in their team. Tom Pope can score goals, and he can be a real threat, and they have players in areas of the pitch who can really cause problems.
“However, we feel we have the same on our team. If we can start properly, and if the players give us the drive and energy we know they have, then we should be in a position to get something from the game. I feel the group is in a very good place mentally and our confidence is very high after last weekend’s performance. The lads have taken a lot from it and they’ve applied it all in training this week. The energy levels have been very good and the togetherness is definitely there. It bodes well for a strong performance.”
“We feel that the game plan we’re going with will give us a good chance of getting the right outcome,” he added. “If we can keep them quiet at the start of the game it could be the case that their fans will get a little bit impatient and that can spread to their players.”
And on the current situation in the bottom half of League One, he said: “It’s a very tight league this year. You could throw a blanket over the bottom 12 or 13 and there’s not a great deal in it. Teams who were looking like they were going to fall adrift are starting to get results and they’re pulling themselves back into the group.
“I think when you start as poorly as we did this season you find that you’re always playing catch up. It’s been difficult but we do feel that we’re playing well at the moment. We now go into a run of games where we’re playing the teams around us and it’s an opportunity to pull away and get some positive results which will keep us in the league. As I’ve said all along, it’s in our hands and you take it one game at a time. That’s not a cliché, it’s just the way it has to be.”
“We go into the weekend feeling confident,” he concluded. “I’ve found that a big part of the job when you’re managing people is actually to manage confidence levels. That is extremely difficult to do. It’s a case of trying to help people by almost getting into their head. The reward is when you see them walking around with smiles on their faces and they have a spring in their step. The group has that at the moment and we’re looking forward to what should be another tough game.”