United boss Chris Beech spoke to us about what he expects will be a tough game ahead of the Saturday afternoon visit of play-off chasers Colchester United.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in front of our home fans,” he said. “Hopefully the weather will be good.
“Our fans have been brilliant as far as I’m concerned. They’ll only ever value hard work, people that are putting their bodies on the line, and with that, they’ll support that. You could never take your eye off that simple, hard-working, honest traits, because it represents the area.
“I drove around Carlisle yesterday, people going to work, mums doing what they do, kids going to school, they want to come on a Saturday and really enjoy the experiences. If you work back from what’s important to win, of course we all want to win, but if we don’t win, and we still show those traits, I think you’ll get forgiven to a point, and supported.
“These amber warnings, weather warnings, etc, especially in the away games, they’ve been really vocal and behind every tackle, header, goal, clearance. It’s been the same at home and I’ve enjoyed and been very respectful of the fact I’m stood in front of them.
“I feel honoured to be able to do that. I’ve got to make sure I take my job and responsibility of the job correctly and always represent correctly. I know how much it means to supporters, to players playing, the feelings, the journey they go on to try and achieve. We’ve got to keep this forward momentum going, the only way you can do that is by working hard.
“Of course we’re in the business of winning, you’ve seen how frustrated I’ve been when we’ve played ever so well and the players haven’t been able to get as much adulation, because we’ve not got the actually three points, but on Saturday we did.”
Looking back at the manner of last weekend’s victory, he said: “You’re never going to get everything your own way. On Saturday it went well, in other games we’ve had the performances, but we haven’t managed the result.
“You’re going to get tested and challenged in different ways. I refer to this a lot, but it’s a little bit like boxing. You get rounds that go your way, but when an opponent decides to strike or do something different, whether they’re constantly jabbing, or have a massive right hand, or constantly avoiding you, you’ve got to make sure you find an answer to the question they ask of you.
“We’ve been able to do that recently for quite a while, whether behind or in front, but it’s nice to be in front. It was good to enjoy for everybody’s sake last Saturday, for the football club it was brilliant.”
Speaking about what we can expect to see from the away side, he said: “They’ve got a great midfield, a great height and long throws. If you remember, we had Lofty marking Harry Pell, he won every header from four or five headers.
“You think, matching height with height and physicality, they’re a big team, big centre-halves, big midfield players, strong centre-forward who’s muscular and robust, with some pace in Theo who has a good passing brain.
“They have people that can run with the ball, and they can score from anything from 35 yards towards your goal. They’re a potent team that are resetting for the last 10 games. They’ll look at this as an opportunity to get that right from their perspective. I’ll mention it to the boys, but we have to make sure we’re right at it.”
The Colchester away defeat was one of the first games United’s new boss took charge of, at a time when injuries left him with a threadbare squad and a mammoth task.
Leading into this fixture he has a squad brimming with confidence, having lost just once in nine games, and with some new faces who have added new skill sets to the mix.
“It’s all about building blocks,” he told us. “It’s about the standards we’re trying to achieve. The biggest thing for me was the fact I had 15 or 16 fit pros for that game. The fact we’ve been able to change the team, 16 transactions in January was massive was one almost every other day.
“That includes the reengagement of Aaron Hayden and Gethin Jones, recruiting permanent players for longer contracts, players trying to leave, players who’ve been invested in for loans for the full season and their own clubs don’t want them back.
“Imagine that, almost like having last year’s stock in the shop you’re trying to sell, nobody wants it, that’s a shame, but it’s the truth. We can’t avoid the truth, we have to try and address it and make it better. That’s what we’ve done but we have to keep doing that.
“Everybody who’s locked in from the end of January has every opportunity to play for us before the end of the season. They’ve got to approach their opportunities like that.”
And he confirmed again that homework has been done as he continues to plan for what he described as the ‘wounded animal’ that is Colchester United.
“Along with the staff we have great knowledge of them, and what they can do, and how they try and do it,” he told us. “I’ve often talked about tactics, whether it’s Crewe, what they’ll end up doing - and they did it - Plymouth, or whoever it is.
“We’re very knowledgeable of what they can do and respectful of Colchester, but there’s so many different anomalies in how a player plays, and not too much changes physically from Saturday to Saturday, or technically, tactically.
“But what the players do in those 90 minutes can change, so we’ve got to make sure we’re in a position where we’re giving everything we possibly can to back up those traits we keep talking about.
“I’ve been reading the manager’s comments, he’s backing the squad that’s done well this season. He’s set them a challenge. They’re in the last quarter, last phase of the season, with 10 games left.
“He’s challenged them to see what they can do. Like I said last week, it’s the integral and important part of the season now for promotion and relegation. Colchester see themselves in that position right now.
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