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MANAGER: We've got to perform as well as we can

Paul Simpson looks ahead to the Walsall game

14 April 2022

United’s Easter weekend of fixtures kick off with an away trip to Walsall on Friday and a game against a team that has exactly the same record, albeit with a slightly better goal difference.

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“It’s one of those games where it’s two sides at the wrong end of the table, scrapping for their lives, with two managers who are both saying the same things,” Paul Simpson said. “Mike Flynn has shared his thoughts this week and the way he gets his teams ready to go is very, very good.

“He did an excellent job at Newport and we know it’s going to be a tough game. I totally get that. As ever it is really about us, and if we go about our business properly, as we have through my time here, then we can get ourselves into a position which gets us the points.

“I don’t think he’s been saying anything different to what’s been coming out of Carlisle United, or any other football club, and definitely at League Two level.

“There are a lot of players who are out of contract and playing for their futures, whether it’s here or at any other club. It’s about going out and doing your jobs properly, and making sure you enjoy doing it as well.

“If we do that, I think we’ve got more than enough to get a result, but we have to be fully aware that this is not going to be an easy game and we’re going to have to be right at it.”

“But it’s strong words,” he added. “He’s experienced enough to know what’s needed, he must have felt it was needed to say what he said.

“I’ve said the same thing but probably not as forthright as he did. It’s the nature of football, and certainly the nature of the way the game is at the moment.

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“Everybody tells me we are just coming through the pandemic, I’m not sure we are through it yet, when you look at the numbers of Covid cases.

“We’re through that from a financial point of view, everybody will be taking stock of where they are, and I would imagine this summer is going to be a really difficult one for clubs and players, because there will be a lot of players get released and they’ll have to take stock of where they are in their career and where they want to go with it.”

And it’s a game where three points for either side will see them get across the line of no longer having to look over their shoulder.

“I should imagine they’ll be fired up anyway,” he commented. “I don’t think any professional footballer goes into a game with the intention of losing, they go in with the right intentions - everyone I’ve come across has.

“They’ll have had a bit of a jolt from what the manager said but maybe ours have as well. I’ve reminded them again that the situation regarding contracts isn’t going to be resolved until the end of the season, when we all know where the club’s at and what we’re going to do.

“They’ve all got to get on with it. They’re either showing Carlisle United that they deserve a new contract or showing the rest of the country and world they deserve to go and sign for them.

“I just think that’s something you have to challenge yourself every day, you’ve got to want to be the best you can possibly be and challenge yourself to go as far as you can.

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“I don’t think that changes the fact I’m out of contract, it’s something you’ve got to strive to do all the time. It’s something that’s been drilled into me from my days at Man City in the early 80s and that’s stuck with me for the whole of my career.”

The Banks’s Stadium can be a noisy place when the fans get behind their team, and that’s another factor that will need to be taken into account heading into the encounter.

“I like Walsall’s ground, I had a really good month there when I was on loan from Wolves, the supporters were good to me,” he revealed. “I know how good they will be if they get behind the team, but if we’re right and we can get their fans unhappy, we can make sure we can go and do our job and that’s all I’m concerned about.

“They’re a team that’s had a little bit of an indifferent season and they probably expected to be at the top end of the table and not in the bottom half. It will be a difficult game. We’ve got to perform as well as we can to make it a really difficult afternoon for them.

“Part of that is making sure we start right, which we didn’t do last weekend. We’ve got to do that. I don’t think you can go into any game and think you can take it easy or ease your way into it.

“Anybody who follows football will have watched the Liverpool, Man City game and Real Madrid against Chelsea. That’s how to play football. That’s the intensity you need to be working at.

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“I think Jurgen Klopp called it a boxing fight and they slugged it out. And what an example of how to play football the Chelsea game was. The way they worked and the intensity they put into it is great to watch.

“I totally accept that we’re not at the same level as those teams, but we can still run as hard and work as hard as they did. That’s the challenge, can we go and do that. I always think that if you work really hard and you get a bit of luck then sometimes things start to go your way.”

Mansfield at home follows on very quickly from the trip to the Midlands, but the Carlisle boss insisted that the rapid turnaround doesn’t change much when it comes to preparation.

“I think in our current situation and the predicament we find ourselves in we have to literally go with the old adage of one game at a time,” he told us. “Walsall is next so all of the prep is for that.

“Once we’re through that and we see where we’re at we can then make a decision on how we do Monday. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do it.

“It’s the same as Christmas when you play on Boxing Day, when managers have players in to train on Christmas Day, it’s only right if you win it.

“Whatever we do, the games will take care of themselves, but let’s deal with Friday first. Let’s make sure we put on a proper performance at Walsall which is closer to our personality than the Exeter game was. If we do that we’ll take whatever comes.”

Playing their part will be the sizeable and guaranteed to be noisy Blue Army.

“There’s a really positive feeling from the fans but we have to make sure we keep it that way,” he said. “Last weekend we didn’t do enough to keep it because we didn’t work hard enough, we didn’t look sharp enough and we didn’t pass the ball well enough.

“We came out of it with all sorts of things we can complain about, and I did say that it’s the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve had to say that, and I hope it’s the last.

“I want us to keep building and be better than we were, and I want us to make sure we finish the season strongly.”

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