Villa loanee Callum O’Hare has been one of the stand-out performers in recent weeks and his second goal for the club against Bury on Saturday set the scene for what was an amazing turnaround as United’s ten men came from behind to grab all three points in dramatic fashion.
Speaking about the talented youngster at this week’s press conference, manager Steven Pressley said: “Callum has made a terrific impact since he arrived. I was chatting to him yesterday [Tuesday] about his fitness.
“One of the most significant aspects a manager can give to a player is fitness, and the ability to be able to carry out everything that’s asked of them. When he first arrived, he actually struggled after 55-60 minutes in matches to carry out everything we’d asked of him.
“Week by week he’s growing and getting fitter and fitter because of the demands of playing first team football. We’re now beginning to see a really good young player, and a big part of that is that he’s now able to do the things we ask him to do.
“When he receives the ball late in a game he now has the fitness levels to make the right decision, and that’s why we’re seeing improved performances. He’s a credit to himself and the club, not just because of his performances on a Saturday, but also his attitude on the training ground and around the place.
“There’s nothing big time about him, and he’s everything you could want in a loan player. We’re really pleased to have him here, and I’d like to have him back next season if it was possible. If that isn’t the case, it’s only down to him being a real success story during his time here.”
“You hear people say, and I was probably guilty of thinking this in my early managerial career, that for loan players there isn’t the same feeling towards the club,” he commented. “In many cases the loan players are here for a year, and also in many cases players are only signing one-year contracts.
“The actual reality of it is that there’s very little difference between being on loan for a year and signing a one-year contract. A big part of loans, which will never change, is that it comes down to the player’s attitude towards wanting to be a success.
“We aren’t just talking about Callum here, we’ve also got young Regan [Slater]. Regan was so disappointed to come off at half time on Saturday because he’s got a real pride in his performances and he wants to do well and be a success.
“The key to every loan deal that you do, and I include the players who were here before I arrived in this, is that you sign the players with the right mentality and ambition. If you get that, loan players can be a really good addition to any team.”
And on the subject of attitude, he also discussed the relative merits of experience versus youth when it comes to this important stage of the campaign.
“People talk a lot about the merits of having players who have been through it, and I do believe if you’ve been through the journey, and experienced it before, it can help,” he said. “Experience can help put results into perspective and you understand certain situations a little bit more.
“On the other hand, you’ve got the younger players who go into this stage of the season with no fear because they haven’t experienced any disappointment in their career. You can talk about experience being important, but sometimes if that experience wasn’t a positive experience it can have an adverse effect.
“It’s all about having a good mentality at this time of year, and really wanting to achieve what you probably set out to achieve when you were a young boy, which is winning things.”
Speaking about the reaction from Anthony Gerrard, with the defender having missed out on last week’s game, he told us: “He’s reacted well. Being left out isn’t nice for any senior player. I’ve been there myself and every player has pride and, to a point, an ego. That’s normal, we all have that. When those are dented it’s never easy.
“It’s how you react that matters, and I thought Anthony trained really well when he came back into work this week. He was actually a really good influence and he was talking and cajoling as he trained beside one of our younger players. That’s all I ask for, and he’s done that, so credit to him.”
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