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MANAGER: Shape is determined by the players you've got

Paul Simpson on how the team lines up

25 July 2022

We’ve asked the manager a lot about shape recently, with the team (whoever is selected as part of the eleven) looking comfortable in its formation and approach, so Paul Simpson sat down with us once again to talk us through his line of thought.

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“I think years ago I’d have probably been set in thinking that I have to play a certain way, and that this is the shape we’re going to use regardless of anything else,” he explained. “Now I think that as a coach your team shape is determined by the players you’ve got.

“These are the players we’ve got, so we have to adapt the shape accordingly, and that’s why we tried something a little bit different again at Morecambe.

“I wanted to look at Jordan Gibson as the right wing back in case we’re in a situation where we might be chasing a game.

“I wanted to get Omari 20-odd minutes, because he hasn’t been involved in any games recently. I wanted Sonny on the pitch, and I thought he gave us some energy, so there really are some good pointers to come out of the fact that we looked at a few different things.

“I’ve been able to see a couple of different options and shapes within the game, and it’s our job between now and next Saturday to get the right shape and the right selection of players to go into the Crawley game.”

“I don’t profess to be a great coach, but it’s little bits of information that players need, and what we’ve tried to do is be consistent with the messages we give,” he added. “It was consistent through the last 15 games of last season and I’ve tried to do the same again with them this time.

“Whether or not we play with a different shape, I try to give clear and simple messages and I definitely don’t overcoach anybody.


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“The training has been designed really well and credit to Gav and Jamie for doing the bulk of that, with me chipping in with my stuff here and there.

“I’ve been really pleased with how we’ve looked organised and disciplined, but the true test comes next Saturday. Kev Betsy wants his team to play free-flowing football, and I’m sure that’s what they’ll try to do, and we’ll have to deal with that.”

On some of the individuals who are currently making things tick, he commented: “Jon Mellish is a bit like Forrest Gump, he just keeps running and running.

“He causes all sorts of problems and I’ve been really pleased with him.

“Jordan is one of those players who ticks so many boxes, and I think he had a good game on Saturday. I wanted to have a look at him in that wing back slot because there could be times during the season where we need to use him there.

“He’s a player who can slot into any team. He loves playing football and he has an aggressive attitude towards his work, and he’s showing that in the way he plays.

“We could go through the team, they’re all staking a claim because they all want to start. That’s what you want as a manager, and it’s then down to me to get the right blend for each opponent we face.”

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