MANAGER: We have to stick together

A consistent message from manager Paul Simpson, almost from the first moment he walked through the door back in February, has been for the tangible feelings of positivity surrounding his appointment to be turned into a wave of goodwill, with Brunton Park the fortress at the centre of the move to get the club back to where we all feel it should be.

But the almost overwhelming feeling around the stadium as the game kicked off on Saturday was one of edginess and nerves, with players and fans both waiting for something to happen to lighten the mood.

“It’s about getting results, that’s what we’re judged on,” he said. “It wasn’t a great game, and I don’t know what it was but there was a nervousness right from the start.

“That wasn’t just the players, but with the numbers that turned up I thought the crowd was nervous as well. I don’t know why that is.

“If you look at the league table we’re sat with eight points after five games, which is ok. It’s not brilliant, but it’s not horrendous. I just think we need to chill a little bit and go and enjoy it.

“We’re in a good position and there are positives to take from the game. We got the win, the clean sheet, and if you take three points without conceding it’s most of what you ask for.

“We got Paul Huntington back on the grass, Morgan Feeney was back, Owen Moxon was out there, and we’re closer to getting the other injured lads back as well. We really are in a good place so let’s just stay nice and calm.

“I’ve said this all along, we’ve just got to stick together. The issues at this football club aren’t going to turn around overnight, it’s going to take a bit of time and we’ve got to do it together. That’s the big thing I would say.

“It was frustrating for me to watch at times and I’m sure it was frustrating for the supporters, but if we stick together and enjoy that winning feeling we had at full-time, hopefully we can do it a bit more than we have done over the past few years.”

“I’m not criticising supporters and I massively appreciate that some are in a horrendous financial position at the moment with the way our country is,” he added. “I don’t need to go into it too much, there’s the energy crisis, Ukraine war, we’re coming through Brexit, Covid, you name it, we’ve had the lot. I get it, I understand.

“When they came in, I said to the players at half-time, do not wait for the crowd to lift you, you’re going to have to lift them. You’re going to have to get on the front foot, and I totally get all of that. The players need to get the crowd going by their actions.

“We’ve just got to try and create a little bit more of a positive atmosphere. I do think there’s a positive feel, and I don’t go into town very often, but whoever I do talk to they’re really happy with what’s going on.

“They can see that we’re trying to do the right things, and there’s an understanding that it’s never going to be right all the time. We’ve just got to be a little bit patient, take a bit of a breath and make sure that we do all stick together so that we can make it a better place than it has been.”

“I went into the kitchen before the game and made myself a coffee, when the players were out warming up, and the atmosphere inside that Fan Zone is brilliant,” he explained. “I could hear the music, I’ve no idea who it was, and I could see that it was packed out there.

“There are people coming here and wanting to have a good time. We’ve got to give them something more to shout about. I just hope they stay with us, give us a chance and stay positive, even when things are maybe not quite going as well as we would all like.

“I always say that the players have got to lift the fans and our performance wasn’t right in the first half for that to be the case. We had a very nervous performance for 30-odd minutes last week at Stevenage, and we were a lot better there after the break.

“I asked today for a really positive and athletic running performance to go up against Gillingham, and one where we competed.

“For me, the basics for any football game - and I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve worked at Premier League, Championship and international level, and it doesn’t change - you have to be prepared to do the hard work, end of story.

“There was a really big thing made about Manchester United’s game against Brentford, where they didn’t run as far as Brentford did. The reason they were successful against Liverpool is because they ran, they closed down, they worked, competed and challenged.

“That’s what I wanted and my message to the lads at the break was that the first 45 minutes wasn’t good enough. I told them not to blame anybody else, that was down to us.

“My question to them at the end was - what was the difference between the first 15 minutes of the second half and what they did in the first half, and they told me that it was because they ran and they competed, and they made the choice to do that for us.

“That was only me giving them a reminder, they’re the ones who did it. When they make that choice they can be a tough team to play against. We showed that in the way we got the goal, then we were a little bit nervy again after that. Thankfully we saw it through for a really good win.”

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