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MANAGER: It's a good start

More from Paul Simpson following the opening day win

31 July 2022

United opened their new season account with three points from a home win at Brunton Park against Crawley on Saturday afternoon, and it was a result earned from discipline and hard work, with the team comfortable in its shape and its collective role.

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All of the work done through pre-season was designed with exactly that in mind, and manager Paul Simpson confirmed after full-time that seeing it all come together left a satisfying feeling in the coach’s office.

“Certainly the attitude, the application, the determination, work rate, that was what I was expecting and hoping for,” he said.

“Three points was what I was hoping for, as was a clean sheet. Being totally greedy I wanted more goals.

“I think when you look at the way the game was, it’s fair to say that we probably should have got more goals.

“One thing that I will say is that for a first game you’re always very nervy and a little bit edgy, and I’m just delighted we’ve got ourselves over the line with the win.”

But those nerves were quickly set aside as the group’s discipline and fitness came to the fore.

“I’ve said this before, but I think when you’re fit it gives you that confidence to do things,” he commented. “I tend to watch the warm-up from up in the stand and they did look a little bit nervous.

“Gav [Skelton] said that it had felt a bit nervy out there, and I get that. I totally understand it. I’ve been there myself so I know what it’s like.

“This is where it really matters, in these games, so there’s bound to be an edge.

“We did create some good openings, and we had one opportunity early on when Fin Back got behind on their left-hand side, and he put it across, then Edmo had a strike where the keeper made a good save.

“I was thinking, come on, let’s get the goal and settle ourselves down. I wanted us to give the fans something to cling onto and cheer, and then when you get the next goal you have that breathing space.

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“If we’d got the second they would have had to come out a little bit, but overall I’m absolutely delighted that we got off to a winning start.

“I was really pleased with the support we got, but now we have to dust ourselves down and go again.”

Opening days haven’t always been kind to the Blues, with their only other victory from the last 12 campaigns here on home soil, coincidentally against the same opposition.

“There’s some interesting stats coming out, and I was thinking it was going to be a doddle because I’m also hearing that Crawley haven’t won here for however many years,” he joked. “None of that really matters, it’s about getting the result.

“I thought the performance was good at times and I have this thing in my mind that if your performance is right then over the season your results will be right.

“The one thing that was missing was a bag full of goals. We should have been more clinical but it’s three points and a great start for our home supporters. It gives us something to build on for next week.”

Football fans are notoriously pessimistic, but even though the gap was just one goal wide, it was a game that didn’t seem to have that sense of pending doom, even when the Red Devils went close from a late set piece.

“I was nervous because being one up can be a difficult one,” he said. “It just needs a mistake, or something crazy to happen, and it’s all-square.

“When they had that header that just went past the post I was actually waiting for it to nestle in the bottom corner. Tomas was as calm as anybody, thankfully, and it didn’t affect us.

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“I thought their front three were very good, without actually causing Tomas any problems. They had a lot of possession, I’ve watched them over pre-season, and I know Kev Betsy and Dan Micciche.

“They’re trying to build a possession-based team, so we had to probably give up a little bit of that, but not in areas where I was really worried.

“Especially in the first half, we had a plan to press and squeeze, and we had a lot of chances from that.

“There were 10 chances for us in the first half because we won it in high areas. We just didn’t have that quality to finish them off.

“Defending as a team we did really well, and we were really good on transitions. It was the final pass, the decision on what to do in the box or with the cross, the slide ball, whatever it was, we didn’t get that bit right. That’s where we need to keep improving.”

“I want a real front-foot mentality, for us to win it as high up the pitch as we can,” he continued. “If you’ve got a team like Crawley who want to play out from the back, you have to be prepared for it and be patient waiting for the opportunity to nick it.

“I thought, particularly in the first 30 minutes we did it well, created chances, and gave us that platform. In the second half we had a spell where they had a bit of the ball without really troubling our goals.

“We still had opportunities where we’ve won it. Callum Guy’s won it and had a shot instead of finding a pass, Jordan Gibson has had a break and probably should have done things a little bit quicker, Jack Armer’s intercepted one from the goalkeeper and don’t know what he tried to do first time with his right foot, but we had some really good chances from being on the front-foot and winning the ball back, and we’ve got to stay that way.

“Early in the game we won the ball high up the pitch, and the thing we worked on was making the transition count. We did that. Unfortunately in the second half we didn’t make enough of the right passes and we didn’t make the best of our hard work.

“We let them off the hook, but on another day, and if we keep repeating the exercises in training, we’ll take even more advantage of a performance like that.”

“But overall we’re really pleased because this is the only way to start,” he concluded. “Get a win at home, give your fans something to shout about, give the players something to cling on to.

“It’s a brilliant start, now let’s keep it going.”

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

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