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MANAGER: It's got to be a steady plan

Paul Simpson on his current situation

14 April 2022

We took a few moments of Wednesday afternoon’s press conference to speak to manager Paul Simpson about one of the major topics of the day – his future beyond the Bradford away game.

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Typically candid throughout, we started by asking if there was anything new to report in terms of talking to the hierarchy about a way ahead.

“No, nothing yet, but I will be speaking to them,” he told us. “There’s nothing to relay at the moment.

“It’s a club that I hold dear, everybody knows that. It’s a club that’s been part of my life. There has to be discussions.

“I said last week - and it wasn’t just in the emotion of a poor performance - but I said that there needs to be an overhaul.

“There needs to be a change in mentality and a plan of going forward. I want to know what the plan is, and I want to know where we are going to go.

“If the plan is favourable, then I would like to be a part of it as well. We need to have those discussions and I’m quite sure they will happen soon.”

So we wondered if he’ll be heading into those talks with a specific list of demands that need to be met, should he commit himself to staying for the longer-term.

“No, there’s certainly no gun to a head, and there is no list of demands,” he added. “The club are where they are, we haven’t got millions of pounds washing around in bank accounts, and we aren’t like Premier League clubs are, I totally get that.

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“I’m realistic, I need to know where we are. It’s not even a case that’s there’s been a discussion about what salary there’d be, or anything like that. It’s not even a case of that.

“It’s a case of where does the club see itself being? Where do we want to get to? Are we prepared to go through a bit of pain to get ourselves there, and not just have an emotional reaction on the back of two or three results?

“It’s got to be a steady plan of how we’re going to turn it round. I’m never one of these people to say that I’ve got a five-year plan so give me a contract to match it, because it doesn’t work that way, but I want to see that there is a genuine plan in place and a genuine idea of where we’re going to go.

“Everybody knows there’s been talk of change of ownership and outstanding loans, debt, I get all of that, but I don’t know where it’s at.

“I’ve chosen to not get involved in that, so there needs to be a discussion. We need to talk about how we make everything better.

“I’m in a football club that’s got no recruitment process, that’s got to be put in place, there’s all sorts of things. If there’s no money for that then it’s going to be really difficult to take the club forward.

“There are all these things that we need to look at and talk about. We’re all sensible people and there’s enough football people and common sense amongst us all to be able to come up with a solution, so let’s see what comes and let’s hope it’s the right solution.”

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And with time running out on the current season it stands to reason that he must want this particular situation resolved, one way or the other.  

“I made the decision a couple of weeks ago that I would put a skeleton plan of pre-season together whatever happens because if it’s not me, it would be unfair on someone else stepping in if I’d done nothing to semi-prepare pre-season,” he explained.

“Out of courtesy and for the club, I’ve started to do that anyway. It does need to be resolved and there do need to be discussions. I’m not saying it will be decided overnight because there’s a lot of things to discuss, but there’s a hell of a lot that needs to happen here.

“We’ve got players and staff members out of contract, there’s recruitment that needs to take place, and we're not the only club in that position.

“I already know of a couple of clubs who have got 10 or 12 players who will be released. I spoke to somebody today who has got nine of their starting 11 out of contract in the summer, and we’re in a very similar position.

“We’ve got a good number of our starters who are out of contract and that needs to be resolved. We’re in a position where we need to get through to the end of the season and I’ve told the players that I very much doubt that they’ll be told either way until after the Bradford game.

“That’s all I know about it and that’s normal in League Two football, and it’s probably the same in League One.

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“I even heard last summer about some Premier League players not being told until they were sent a letter in June. Clubs have the right to do it and you just have to get on with it.

“As much as it’s an unsettling situation, we all have to get on with it and we’ll all find out what we’re doing at the right time.”

Having had the chance to assess the club over the course of the past nine weeks, and having identified that he feels there’s a fair bit of work to do, we took a hypothetical standpoint of him having agreed to take the job on.

With that the case, would we, in his opinion, be in a position to mount a promotion challenge come July or are we looking at the need for patience as we restructure and build from the bottom up?

“We’ll start the season wanting to win as many games as we can, but everybody has to understand that the likelihood is that there’s going to be changes in personnel this summer,” he said. “I don’t know how many are out of contract, and I don’t know how many will be retained or released, which in turn means I don’t know how many are going to come in.

“I don’t know anything about the budget or what level of finance we work to at this club, so there’s going to be a challenge. I don’t think it’s going to be a one transfer window challenge, I think it will take a few transfer windows.

“I’m not saying that the club have to stick with me for three or four transfer windows, what I’m saying is that it will take a few transfer windows to transform this group into a group who can compete at the top end of the table.

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“After this amount of games, the league table doesn’t lie, it just tells you where you are. After two or three games you can be at the top or the bottom by being lucky or unlucky, but after this many games this is a reflection on where this group of players is.

“Whether that’s offensive to people, I don’t really care, that’s the truth of it. The league table doesn’t tell lies and at the end of the season it will definitely give us a reflection of where we are.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re not getting to a point where we’re at the end of April and we’re still concerned about relegation.

“We have to make sure this football club is competing at the right end of the table with supporters begging to come through the turnstiles, which they haven’t done all season.

“It’s our responsibility to put a group of players together with a group of staff that encourages supporters to come and watch us.”

It appears we know the answer to this one, but it’s such a basic question it had to be asked - do you actually want the job?

“I want the job if things are right, yes,” he confirmed. “I keep going back to it, but it has to be right.

“I’m not using it as a bargaining tool, I’m in a position where it has to be right for me. If it is right, then brilliant, we’ll all crack on together.

“If it’s not, then hopefully I’ll have done the job I was brought in to do for 15 games. If I do walk away, they haven’t lied to me and I haven’t lied to them.

“I agreed to do 15 games and that’s what I’m sticking by. I hope that by the end of the fifteenth game we’re still in a position where we can take the club forward, but I want to be part of a club that is progressive.

“I want it to be a challenge, I’m not saying I want a nice easy job, I want a challenge and that’s why I left the FA, because I want the challenge of first-team football. It’s got to be a challenge where everybody understands where we are and where we want to get to.”

“And there are obviously the concerns over the takeover, and that side of it,” he concluded. “Unless something’s going on in the background that I don’t know about, I’ll be very surprised if there’s new owners.

“You just have to look at Derby County as an example, they’ve been trying to get new owners since last September, with a fantastic training ground, stadium, 30,000 supporters week in week out, a Championship team with an unbelievable top name manager, they can’t get a new owner.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, unless there’s stuff going on that I don’t know about, I don’t think a new ownership group will be happening overnight.

“It’s this ownership group, and I just need to know where they see the club going, how they want it structured and how they want to work it.

“I’ve been really pleased with what’s happened so far, delighted with the response from the supporters, which has been incredible, I just didn’t expect it to be as good as it has been.

“I want us to be competing at the right end, to be a stable club where supporters are banging on the doors to come and support us, and we have local businesses who are encouraged and want to come and be part of it because there’s a positive feel about it.

“I get there’s been a positive feel over recent weeks. I want to keep that, and the only way to keep it is by having a team to go on the grass that can compete at the right end of the table, that can consistently perform and get results. If we do that I think it could be a good place to be.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Paul Simpson on iFollow United now.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.


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