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Interviews

MANAGER: We have to get back to what we're good at

Steven Pressley on this week's preparations

12 September 2019

Carlisle manager Steven Pressley spoke about what has been a week of hard work following the disappointment of the result and the performance against Exeter City last weekend.

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“It’s been a week of reflection,” he said. “We’ve obviously looking for the solution and answers to the performance at the weekend and we’ve worked with the players on a lot of aspects of our play.

“We’re hoping that we can fully implement them when we play Stevenage. There are areas of our game which we most definitely need to improve on. We looked at the physical data from last Saturday and those levels were very high.

“Distances were covered, but when I watched the game back you could see that the inches and yards that I’ve spoken about were the aspects where we didn’t do particularly well. We didn’t get close enough to stop crosses or to get onto secondary balls, and we were slow in our reactions.

“The players worked very hard within that, but we were let down by not doing the small details, and that’s where I think we let ourselves down. I have to be honest and say that I haven’t enjoyed watching us over the last two games, whereas I had enjoyed watching us before that.

“One of the features of our play before this was that we’ve been a really strong passing team. The statistics backed that up because we were just outside the top passing team in the league until two games ago. We’re now fifth.

“Nobody can tell me that you can’t pass your way out of this league because three of the top five passing teams are in the top five now. There’s a bit of a myth about this division that you can’t play this way, and it’s untrue.

“At the moment we’ve lost sight of that and it’s what we need to get back to. I built this team to pass and play, we have a framework we work to and, for some bizarre reason, we put it to one side. The players know it inside out because if I was to walk onto the training pitch and do a throw-in scenario, for example, the players would immediately go to their positions.

“Whether or not the players got spooked, I don’t know, but they got away from it. It’s my job now to get them back to it, and hopefully that’s what we’ll see on Saturday.”

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On the reaction he’s had from the players, he said: “I have a really strong relationship with this group, and I’ve said a number of times just how good a group they are.

“I sometimes do and say things to get a reaction, and everyone is fine with that. I’ve got a great relationship with them and I always back them, but because I work with them in a certain way I feel like I can be critical of them at certain times.

“The bottom line is that it’s up to me and the players to find a solution. The game last Saturday is a barometer of where we are, and we know we’re a little it behind the likes of Exeter, but that’s because we’re still a new side.

“But, what I do know, is that we’re better than what we showed in that game. We prove that by doing the things we know we’re good at and by showing courage and passing the ball. It’s performances not words which will answer our critics at the moment, and that’s why we need to make sure we do the good things from the minute we kick off.”

Speaking more about the squad, he said: “I’m very comfortable with the players we have. We know where we are and my job is to work hard with all of them to make them as good as they can be.

“The younger players are possibly a bit further away from regular first-team football than we anticipated, but they’ll get there. Both the senior and younger players know that I expect them to train how they play every single day, and that’s the way we will set and maintain standards.

“With our injuries, both Stefan [Scougall] and Kelvin [Etuhu] are still several weeks away. We’ve missed the influence of both players but that’s something we have to deal with.

“Canice [Carroll] picked up an ankle problem from Tuesday, so he’s a doubt. He might make it, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Hallam [Hope] came back today [Thursday] but he didn’t train.

“He was in the gym because of the long trip he’s had but he seems in really good spirits. I think he enjoyed his time with his country and I hope it’s the case that he’s now back and ready to push on with us.

“If he does want to get away in January, or whenever, he has to earn the right to go. People won’t take him based on nine months ago, they’ll do it based on his form. He has to produce for us, that’s the basic fact.”

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