United boss Steven Pressley spoke to us about the trip to face one of United’s bogey teams – Newport County – as the squad heads off to Aston Villa for a Friday training session as they make their way towards south Wales.
“It’s a game we go into with confidence,” he said. “A pleasing factor is that we’ve had two clean sheets in our last three league games, and that’s pleasing because it shows improvement.
“Having said that, we know we’ll be put to the test this weekend against a team that hasn’t lost at home game since February. For me, that’s a great incentive and I love that type of statistic, because it makes you want to be the team to upset it.
“They’ve only had one defeat this season and they have the second best goals against record in the division, so that in itself shows the magnitude of the task against us. As I’ve said to the players, all of that should make it a game we can look forward to.”
“I think Newport are a side where there aren’t a lot of surprises,” he continued. “They’re just very effective at what they do. They continuously test you by getting the ball into the box, be that from open play, thrown ins, set pieces or corners.
“They don’t stop asking questions, and you must have answers for them or they’ll get their goals and make it very hard for you. They’ll ask you over and over if you can deal with it, and you have to find the answers.
“They ask you to defend and they ask you to do the basics of the game very well. If you don’t do them well, they’ll beat you. You can’t get drawn into a certain type of game with them because that’s where they’ll punish you.
“We respect what they are so we have to find a way that can deal with those aspects and then play our way. That’s the balancing act for us and we know that we won’t get anything from it if we don’t impose our ways on them. If we do play the game our way we know we have a chance.”
With Exiles boss Michael Flynn reportedly the subject of interest of clubs higher up the pyramid he was the subject of praise from the Carlisle boss for his achievements at Rodney Parade.
“He’s done an excellent job,” Pressley said. “They seem to improve every year and he’s managed to keep the nucleus of the group together. He lost some of his better players in the summer but he’s recruited very well and it’s a group with good stability.
“I told Michael the last time I saw him that I thought he was doing a fantastic job. With what he’s done there are bound to be a number of suitors looking at him. That comes back to a little bit of longevity and being allowed to build a club the way you want it to go.
“Football is a game now where instant success is required. If there isn’t instant success there has to be change, but the reality of football is that all of the success stories, and the study over all of the European leagues over the last seven years will tell you this, that stability of squad and stability of staff are key elements - but they just don’t make good stories.
“It will take time here, and we are where we are just now. Hopefully in time we’ll progress, and I want to be part of that. I want to be part of this club moving forward where I’m developing a team that eventually gets promotion, and then gets promotion again.
“That’s what I want from this team, but it won’t happen overnight. I’ve said a number of times that our league position just now reflects where we are. That doesn’t mean we don’t continue to strive to improve and the pleasing thing is that I think we’re improving all the time.”
United go into the weekend looking for back-to-back wins and consistency, with almost a quarter of the campaign already done.
“This league is one where a run of wins propels you right into the top positions and we know that a couple of back-to-back wins will see us climb up the table quickly,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re a side that’s had to endure a couple of injuries and suspensions to key players and we’re still in amongst it.
“I’m still very optimistic and I know, as I keep saying, that my job is to make sure this team continues to improve. As long as I see signs of that I’ll be satisfied.
“Nobody ever said it would be easy. The thing is, football management is the only job in the world where everybody else knows better than me. Everybody. Everybody has an opinion, everybody knows better than me, and that’s the reality of the job.
“You cannot do anything now as a football manager and get credit. That’s the reality, that’s what goes with the territory, so am I concerned about criticism?
“Absolutely not, because I know how hard I work, I know how hard my players work, I know how close we are and within this club we know where we are. Those are the important things for me.”
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