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MANAGER: We have to take it on the chin

More from Paul Simpson on the Stevenage game

21 August 2022

Club News

MANAGER: We have to take it on the chin

More from Paul Simpson on the Stevenage game

21 August 2022

We caught up with a clearly disappointed Paul Simpson after full-time at the Stevenage game on Saturday with him having seen his team fall to their first league defeat of the season following a stuttering start to the game.

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“You can’t give any team a two-goal start, I don’t care what level you work at,” he said. “The big disappointment for me is we knew exactly what we were going to face.

“It was going to be direct, up to two strikers, and we said to them that you’ve got to compete for first balls, and if you can’t win your first, you have to be on your toes to win the second contact.

“For 40-odd minutes we got absolutely nowhere near that. We didn’t do that. I think we’ve shown real good character to get the goal just before half-time, it was a really well worked goal.

“We’ve huffed and puffed after that, and we didn’t have enough quality in the final third to make the most of any of the opportunities we had.”

Also disappointing was the manner in which both goals were conceded, with first contact having been won.

“You can’t stand and watch,” he agreed. “Once it bobbles down, you know they’re going to be looking to get on it. That’s the way they play, how they are. They’re really effective at it.

“They’ve got strikers who will compete, midfielders who get onto second balls, the team we selected today was with that in mind, to have legs and energy about us. Sadly we didn’t do it first half.

“That’s not like us because I think we’ve competed really well in previous games. It just didn’t happen this time and we have to take it on the chin.

“Conceding in the way we did, it’s just not right. Because of it you take nothing out of the game.”

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And it felt like a game where the spark didn’t quite ignite, despite plenty of hard work being put in.

“The truth is we got the spark with Jordan Gisbon’s ability on the right-hand side, and then Kris Dennis heading the cross in,” he told us.

“But you can’t do that on 45 minutes, that’s too late. The spark has to come at the start. It just wasn’t there for us in terms of that.

“Overall we’ve just got to be better than we were. I’ve said in the dressing room, every level you work at you have to earn the right to play your game, win the battle.

“My first message to them, my final message too, was win the battle first and then earn the right to play. I think we’ve got really good footballers, we’ve got some ability in thee, but if you don’t earn the right you don’t get that opportunity to show what you can do.

“In little periods later on, when we got it down, passed the ball, didn’t force it, we looked ok and created some half chances. There’s a suspicion of a penalty on Omari, which is hard to see, it looks a penalty on the replay. But that’s clutching at straws.

“In the second half we’re getting in the box, there’s one where one of our players has been shoved in the back on a set play. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened for us and we have to take it on the chin and move on.”

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“The physical side of it, the truth of it is they were better than us at it, better than us in the aerial challenges,” he continued. “They have a game plan they work to and they’re very effective at it. We didn’t cope with it.

“We’re not the first team and won’t be the last that don’t cope with it because they are very effective. Rose is a handful, Norris is a real handful and the two midfielders are decent footballers.

“I thought once we got a bit more of a grip on the game we were a bit better. It’s just really disappointing we’ve come away with nothing out of it.”

The home side’s approach very much became a defensive watch as United start to pick up the midfield pace and get forward with more purpose.

“They defended for their lives once they saw we’d changed things a bit,” he commented. “They’ve got three big lads in there in Sweeney, Vancooten and Piergianni, who defended everything, and the goalkeeper came and took crosses.

“I’m repeating myself, but the truth is we have to be better and we can’t allow ourselves tom need to be playing catch-up. That makes things harder than you want them to be.

“It’s the first proper kick up the backside that we’ve got to deal with and we go again on Monday and get ready for the next one with that in mind.”

Definitely worth a mention is the fact that 331 Blue Army members beat the rail strikes and traffic to show their support behind the goal.

“It’s incredible, absolutely magnificent support,” he said. “And they stayed with us even though we didn’t give them a lot to shout about.

“We can only thank them for that and hope they continue to stay with us. We need them to come in again next weekend and home and hope we can put on a performance and get ourselves back to winning ways.”

Could there be anything else happening in the transfer market to help with that?

“I’m not looking to add because once we have everyone fit we have a balanced squad,” he told us. “I don’t think there’s anything left to spend, and we have to make sure we’re ready if anyone wants to come and take our players away, but that isn’t the case at the moment.

“If it does happen we have to be ready to act so we don’t lose the balance in our squad I’ve just talked about.”

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

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