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MANAGER: We have to do 'us'

Paul Simpson ahead of the Orient game

25 February 2022

Somewhere in the region of 600 United fans will make their way to the Breyer Group Stadium on Saturday afternoon and that will come as absolutely no surprise to Paul Simpson, who will take charge of the club on his second spell in the hotseat for the first time.

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“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “The picture I’ve got in my mind is a positive result and applauding them at the end of the game.

“The stuff before, will be nice. It will be all nostalgic and sentimental and all that sort of stuff, but let’s not kid ourselves.

“We need a positive feeling at the end of games, not at the start of them. If we can get a positive feeling at the end of it then it’ll make for a very, very good journey coming home, that’s for sure.

“I’m really fortunate that I’ve been here when those fans were behind us. And yes, is the short answer, it can be massive when that’s the case.

“That’s what I would say to the fans. Just please come and give us a chance. Come and back us. I can’t do anything about the negativity around off-field stuff, that’s not my remit at the moment. I have no influence over that.

“All I can do is try and do something on the grass. If we can get the supporters backing us, and I’m being told there is a brilliant reaction, which is great, it’s really good.

“Get a reaction at Orient, let’s get some support for us, let’s get a reaction at home on Tuesday night against Rochdale, and let’s see if we can get it going again.

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“If we can start to increase our performances, which in turn gives the fans something to come back for, that’s got to be positive for the football club.

“Football clubs survive on income, simple as that, so the more people we get through, the better the situation is for me or whether it’s Joe Bloggs coming in for next season.

“The better we are for now, if we can be in the Football League, if we can have a swell of fanbase coming in, that’s got to help us, it’s got to put everybody in a more positive light, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

With the appointment process happening across a 16-hour overnight period, it brings a reintroduction to a level of football he hasn’t seen for a number of years.

“Being honest I’m not massively across League Two football,” he told us. “There’s no point in me sitting here and trying to spin it that I know everything about League Two, because I don’t.

“Over the last few months I’ve been doing some work for Radio Lancashire, where they have Burnley in the Premier League, so I’m aware of that; Preston, Blackpool, Blackburn in the Championship, so I’m aware of that.


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“Morecambe, Fleetwood and Accrington in League One, so I’m aware of that. But I watch football. For me, what we have to do is get a really brief description of what the opposition do, and we have to be right.

“We have to do us. There’s no point doing anything else. If us is right, and as a group we are in a good place, you deal with the situation.

“Players have to adapt when they’re out on the grass, they’ve got to be able to adapt to a situation. It might be a nice pitch, and you can play football.

“It might be a horrible pitch with horrible conditions, against a real physical, aggressive side. You have to deal with that.

“Footballers have to adapt, it’s as simple as that. If we can adapt properly, and show what we’re about, we’ll be ok.”

“I know the group is fragile, and that this is about finding the motivation,” he added. “I think it’s massive. I think it’s huge. When I was growing up in football, the mental side and psychological side never even got spoken about.

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“But it is huge. I apologised to the players yesterday [Wednesday] because I’d cancelled their day off today [Thursday]. That’s not a punishment.

“But I said to them, for 10 weeks, I accept you’ve all got families, and things going on, but let’s just focus on what we have to do here. If we do it properly, that day off you’ll get back somewhere further down the line.

“If you can offer somebody 10 weeks of working your socks off to get some success, you’ve then got 7 weeks of holiday, I think most people would take that, so let’s see what happens.

 “In footballing terms it’s a big challenge. It’s not the biggest challenge going on in the world at the moment. It’s football. We have to just win games, let’s not kid ourselves.

“Even if we drew 15 games that’s probably not going be enough. So we’ve got to win some games of football. I haven’t come across any job in football that isn’t a challenge.

“The challenge is for different reasons. This is a reason because they were in a bit of trouble. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s not worry about how big it is, whether it’s the biggest or not the biggest. I don’t really care.

“If I thought it was too big I wouldn’t be sat here. If I didn’t want to do it I wouldn’t be sat here. I just want to be able to go and do what I think I can do, to try and affect it. But really, let’s get the fans going, let’s get the players performing, and if the players perform, then we’ll be fine.”

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The Orient trip is the first of a run of fixtures which sees the Blues play Saturday-Tuesday for the next three weeks, so is this first outing one where he uses the opportunity to see the team first-hand before really getting to grips with it?

“No, we don’t have any free hits,” he insisted. “We’ve got 15 biggies, they’re all big games, so it’s important we do things properly.

“I haven’t got a magic wand so it comes down to picking a team that will go out and do themselves and us justice. We’re going to face a team that’s scrapping for their lives, they’ve changed their manager situation after the game they lost in midweek.

“I was really disappointed for Kenny because he’s a top, top fella, but it takes us into a game where both teams are fighting for the points. It’s who can scrap the best, who can produce a moment, or a few moments in the game that will win it. Hopefully that’s us.

“Rochdale, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not even going to think about that yet. I just want to deal with Orient first. If we get a result against them we’ll have a positive feeling coming into Tuesday night.

“Without going into the old cliché one game at a time, that’s my focus at the moment. Everything’s gone so quickly since late Tuesday night, it’s been bedlam.

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“I’ve got to say, I slept really well last night, I didn’t the night before. I’m hoping after what I’ve seen today we’ll be ready to Orient.”

So it was perhaps a punt in the dark to expect him to be drawn on what happens, whatever the end-game, when the final whistle blows on the Bradford away game in May.

“Honestly, I have not got a clue, I really don’t know,” he said. “I was told that there are a lot of things that need to be sorted over the summer.

“We all know, let’s not kid ourselves over this either, that the football club has some issues going on off the grass as well as on it. There are a lot of things that need to be resolved.

“That’s why I was happy to come just for 15 games with nothing else having been talked about with regard to what we do after that.

“When I came in and spoke to Nigel [Clibbens] and he talked about the contract - I still haven’t signed a contract - but he said he’d get it typed out and he asked when the end date was.

“I told him that my understanding was that the end date was the Saturday of the last game of the season, so he could work it out from there.

“I’ll wait and see when the contract gets put in front of me, but I’m here just to see these 15 games through at this moment in time.

“Carlisle United might like me, I might like Carlisle United again, and we might be sitting down to talk about it. But there are no promises from anybody, me or them. I’m not looking any further.

“In fact, at the moment, my diary has got Orient, Rochdale, something I need to do in Derby on Wednesday night, which I’ll go to do, and then I’ll be back in again to train.

“From there we’ll start looking at the next run of games, and that really is it for now.”

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