Having now been in charge of the team for just over a week we wondered whether things had calmed down now that Chris Beech has had time to begin the process of stamping his mark on the way he wants things to be at Brunton Park.
Speaking at his first weekly press conference, he said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. You know how pleased I was with Saturday’s game and the actual performance, and it’s been a good week following on from that.
“We’ve worked the lads hard with different physical and technical work specific to football. I spoke to the staff and we’ve talked about how we want to see field-based improvements rather than improvements in the gym.
“I want to make sure the players are getting quicker and better at playing their positions and at supporting each other.
“The good thing is that I haven’t found it difficult to settle in at all. It’s been a challenging week, but it’s been challenging in the right way and in the right manner. The players have been very responsive, the staff have been excellent, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing with them every day.
“I don’t see this so much as a challenge, it’s more of an opportunity. Ultimately I want to try and play football in a certain way that represents our community and our people through hard work. I want honesty on the football pitch, and I want some integrity.
“I want to make sure that we’re hard to beat and that we can play some attractive football. Hand-in-hand with that is having the ability to score goals.”
“From my first game last Saturday I saw a lot of what I need and want to see,” he confirmed. “However, we all watched the type of goal we conceded and we’ve definitely got to eradicate that kind of mistake.
“Much of the way we played was good, but I want us to dominate the football a little bit more in terms of possession. And, with that, it has to be possession in certain areas because I don’t want to play at the back, I want us to play out from the back.
“The goals against column is one of the priorities, of course it is, but people often blame the defence and only the defence for that. The simple fact is that if you win the ball back more often in the opposing half, you defend less.
“Adding more of that to our game will, in turn, help those numbers to come down and also take a bit of pressure off the keeper and the back four, three or five, or however it is we decide to play. Whatever the reasons have been we’ve conceded too many goals and we need to change that.”
Speaking about the FA Cup third round draw, which takes the winners of next Tuesday’s replay to Cardiff, he said: “It’s funny, my son Brandon sent a text to Mendez-Laing, who used to be at Rochdale, and he replied with ‘we’re ready for you’ - but we’re not there yet and we have to have that clear in our minds.
“We’ve got Forest Green to deal with first and they will want to get there as well. I’ll concentrate on that game first, but we have to acknowledge that it’s a good opportunity for both football clubs.
“As I’ve already said about Forest Green, they’re the best possession-based team in the league, along with Crewe. Without looking too closely, I think their away record is the best in the league, so we’ll need to do it right because we won’t get it all our own way.”
And speaking more about the positive reaction he’s seen from the players this week, he said: “We do have players fighting for places and everyone seems to be working hard and listening to what we’re trying to implement.
“The two lads who didn’t travel last Friday [Christie Elliott and Elias Sorensen] are great examples of that. They stayed behind and trained really well. We played a strong Preston team in a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday and that gave them and the other boys a good run-out.
“It was good for me to see them play in that games because it gives me more things to think about. I’ve got some selection headaches, but they’re all good ones to have. We’ve got a long season to attack, but we’ve got eight games in the next four or five weeks, so there’s a lot of football to play and we’re going to need everybody to be on board with that.”
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