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MANAGER: It's very early days but the players know they need to be better

John Sheridan with his reaction to the Exeter City away game

4 August 2018

United boss John Sheridan gave us his reaction to the disappointing away defeat at Exeter on the opening day of this season’s League Two campaign.

“With the way we started the game we made life very difficult for ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t start well and we found ourselves two goals down. We were flat, and it can be funny sometimes because you work hard all pre-season and then you get to the first game and you just don’t start properly. That’s what happened to us.

“The goals we conceded ... look, all goals are poor, but we shot ourselves in the foot. I can’t wait to see them and analyse them, so I can see what’s gone on, what we should have done and how we could have prevented them.”

“We’ve made them look easy goals for Exeter to score because we had good numbers of bodies who were behind the ball, but not many of them were doing a lot,” he continued.

“The first goal comes from people going to ground. Just stay on your feet and the goal doesn’t happen. The second one is unbelievable with how many people are stood away and marking space instead of getting touch-tight to players they should be dealing with.

“It’s been a difficult start and those mistakes have ended up costing us. These are lessons the boys have to learn because we have to be better.

“I’m someone who has been managing around this division for a long time, so I try not to beat myself up too much, because I know things like this are going to happen. With some of these lads their performances are up and down like a yo-yo, so it’s going to happen.”

When asked to look for the positives to take away from the game, he commented: “Like I say, we got off to a bad start, but we got ourselves back into the game with the goal we scored.

“That took us into half time thinking there was a chance of us getting back in it. We needed to be switched on and focused, and we did have one or two moments throughout the game.

“Hallam Hope had a couple of chances, and he was looking to do things for us, and we had a bit of a go in the second half, to be fair. There was a great strike from Danny Grainger with his free kick and some of the lads thought it was in. It wasn’t given, so that’s that.

“I don’t think we lacked any effort but we just didn’t do enough of the basics well enough. We do make the game look very difficult at times and that comes down to not doing the basic, simple things well.

“It is just about basics this game and, at this level of football, all I ask of any of them is to just do the basics properly, please. I can talk all I want, and people can talk in the dressing room all they want before the game, but it’s about making the right decisions when they get onto the pitch.”

With fans surprised to see Jamie Devitt and Mike Jones missing from the starting line-up he insisted that he will always pick the eleven he feels will get the result, with nobody guaranteed a place in the eleven.

“There’s nothing in rumours about injuries or players leaving to go elsewhere,” he told us. “Just because someone isn’t picked it doesn’t mean something is going on. No player at this club is good enough to feel he should be starting automatically.

“I wanted to get off to a winning start and sometimes, in the first game of the season, it’s whether you’ve picked the right team. Sometimes you see little things where you think you’ve possibly picked the wrong team.

“I’m quite honest and I’m not frightened to say if I picked the wrong team, based on the performance we get, but the first 20 minutes has just killed us and left us with too much to do.

“I’m the one who picks the players and I felt it was the right team to win us the game. We were well in it, even-stevens, after the first 20 minutes, but it was too late by then. Whoever you play, if you go two goals behind it’s going to be difficult.”

On adding to the squad before the permanent transfer window shuts on Thursday [5pm] he said: “It’s very early days but the players know after this game that they need to be better. We need to defend better, we need to be sharper and we need to improve in a lot of areas.

“I know what I would like to bring in, but at this moment in time I’ve got to work hard to get the best out of this squad. We do need something to add to it, I’m aware of that.

“We need a centre half, and hopefully we’ll get that next week, but I honestly feel that we have enough to win us games with what we already have here, if we keep them all fit.

“If the finances are there and they allow me to bring players in, then I will. We could look at strikers or people in all positions if that was the case. If the finances aren’t there, then so be it. I’m not going to make excuses, it’s eleven against eleven and we have enough good players to get results.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with John Sheridan on iFollow United now.

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