United take on Notts County here at Brunton Park tonight and manager Steven Pressley gave us his thoughts ahead of the game.
“The win at the weekend gives us the belief that we can go into another tough home game and get another positive result,” he said. “They’re fighting for their lives at this moment in time so we certainly won’t be taking anything for granted.
“We’ll prepare as we always prepare and we’ll give them the respect that a football club of that size deserves.”
“I will say that I want our performance to improve from what we saw on Saturday,” he added. “With the injuries I’ll have to think about a few things, but we have to adapt and deal with it, that’s the bottom line.
“We want to add to what we did at the weekend and we want to give the fans plenty to smile about. The supporters went away maybe not feeling delighted with some aspects of what they saw, but they’ll certainly be pleased with the result.”
As to what we can expect from the visitors, who currently sit seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the table, he commented: “I don’t know how the dressing room is in there, but I think they’ll come out of the weekend looking to come here to turn it around.
“If they have the right players I would imagine they’ll have a bit of pride about themselves. They’ll be determined to put things right. What we have to remember is that it’s an important game for us as well.
“We’re in what is a mini-league of games for us, and it’s the business end of the season, so however we win games will be fine with me.”
With a selection headache caused by the addition to the treatment table of forward Mark Cullen, he said: “When you run with a smaller squad the vital aspect of it is your pre-pre-season, and your pre-season, so that you have the players in a condition where they’re less susceptible to injury.
“When John Sheridan came into the club he had to recruit players very late, and that wasn’t ideal for him. To find the club where it is now when you consider that is testament to him and how well he did with his recruitment. Going forward I do think that if you can get the right players in and you can get a good pre-season then I do think you can run with a smaller squad.
“Right now we have to find a way to adapt, but that’s part and parcel of football. If a player drops out for whatever reason the others have to come to terms with it. I like this squad and I think whoever is picked will go out there to do the job for us.”
And with frustration evident during periods of the 90 minutes in the stands and terraces, and on the pitch, he confirmed that dealing with the psychological side of the game is as important as anything else at this crucial stage of the campaign.
“I spoke to the players at half time about the psychological aspects of the game being probably the most important thing they’ll come up against through the final 10 games of this season,” he confirmed. “There’s expectation, there’s tension in the crowd, and I could see on Saturday that there was tension in our play as well.
“However, if you’re going to achieve anything you must manage that part of the game. That’s often what separates the teams who do well from those who fall away. The good thing was that we managed to get through a tough period within the 90 minutes to get back to playing our football.
“I have to say, it’s a great pressure to have when you’re challenging at the top of the division. It’s the type of pressure you want because it means you’re in with a chance. It’s a much better pressure than when you’re fighting to avoid relegation, so it should be enjoyed and embraced and used by the players to help to kick things on.”
“I can feel the tension in the stadium, we heard it from the fans for a spell in the second half on Saturday, but that’s normal at this stage because everybody is just desperate for the team to do well,” he continued. “We all want to achieve, but as staff and players we have to handle the pressures that come with the expectation.
“The kind of feeling within us all where you don’t want to let anybody down is a natural feeling. The mark of a team heading in the right direction is to win games when you don’t play so well. You go through periods like this in every season and it’s how you cope with it that becomes important.”
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