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MANAGER: We must not let ourselves down on the smaller details

Steven Pressley on the need to tighten things up defensively

4 April 2019

Missed chances have been a topic for discussion over recent games as United continue to play good football without quite managing to put teams away.


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But manager Steven Pressley also highlighted the need to tighten things up defensively with the wait for a clean sheet having stretched to 10 games following last weekend’s defeat at Tranmere.

“I spoke to the defenders [on Monday] about the analysis of that aspect of our game and I told them that our best statistical defensive performance was at Colchester … but we still didn’t keep a clean sheet,” he said. “We lost a goal from a corner. Forest Green was one of our top three or four defensive performances and, again, we still didn’t keep a clean sheet.

“When you defend well like that you have to keep clean sheets to go with it, or you just don’t win football games. Keeping clean sheets has to start happening. I actually want to come in on a Monday morning and tell the players ‘well done’ for keeping a clean sheet. That’s what I want to do.

“I’m asking for more from the whole group in terms of encouraging and cajoling each other when it comes to defending the key moments we keep talking. It’s not just a responsibility for the senior players, I think the younger players can do it as well.

“The whole group has got to take responsibility and, if we do that, then the hard work we’re doing will count for something. Don’t put the hard work to nothing by letting yourself down on these details.”

“The results need to be better, we all know that,” he added. “The positive is that we’re still in touch with the play-offs because everybody has been doing us a turn. That’s good, but we have to do ourselves a turn now.

“Every Saturday is a must-win as far as I’m concerned. We’ve been lucky that other teams haven’t capitalised, but we can’t keep turning these opportunities down. If we do keep turning them down, then a million percent we don’t deserve to be in the play-offs come the end of the season.”

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And with the need to finish off the chances created at the other end, he spoke about the ongoing work on the training pitch with Preston loanee Connor Simpson.

“Connor is a young kid who hasn’t played too much football,” he said. “He’s come here and he’s raw. He is a raw talent, but he’s a big imposing guy and if people think we’re not doing any work with him to neglect the kid – we actually got rugby pads in to work with him the physical contact aspects of his game.

“Part of it with him was that he didn’t use his size. He’s 6ft 5, but he hasn’t been using that physical presence. We’re doing exercises with him with those pads and that means he’s exposing himself to contact.

“We’re working hard on the kid, but he is still raw. I agree that he may be able to contribute in some areas, but we are trying to make him better. In training today [Tuesday] I saw one of his best sessions for using his body since I came to the club. I said that to him during the session, so maybe the work is beginning to come through.”

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