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MANAGER: Got to keep doing the same things

Paul Simpson on the Northampton game

11 March 2022

United face teams who are in the hunt for promotion twice in the next four days but manager Paul Simpson insisted there’ll be no change in approach with confidence high following what has been a very good run of results.

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“We’ll approach these games in the same way as the last three, on the front foot,” he told us. “We’ve got to take the game to Northampton, there’s no point in us sitting back and trying to contain them because they’re a good side.

“We’re on a good run of form, I don’t know what’s gone on in the rest of the league but I’d be surprised if anyone else has just won three consecutive games.

“We’re in a good place and we have to make sure we remember that. We’ve touched on what we expect Northampton to do, they’ve done really well and they’re in a great position, but we’ve got to try and knock them off the rails this weekend with the way we go about it.

“We’ll make sure we’re aware of their threats, they’re very good at set plays, I think they’ve scored 21 goals from set plays this season, so that will be a real threat.

“If we can deal with that threat then that will nullify a big part of their game and we can go on and play our game.”

“They’ve got some big players but that’s what Orient were as well,” he continued. “I couldn’t believe how big Orient were and I’d maybe forgotten how big League Two players were to be honest.

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“They were some big units and it will be the same against Northampton, but that’s a challenge we’ve all got to stand up to.

“The players have relished the challenge over three games, now we’ve got to make it four. At the moment, the only important game is Northampton, if we do that right then Tuesday night will take care of itself.”

And winning three games on the bounce is tough at any level, and perhaps an indication of the spirit that’s in the dressing room.

“There is real character in the dressing room and that’s the big thing that has pleasantly surprised me,” he commented. “There’s also some ability and they’re starting to show that more and more.

“I think in the second half at Oldham they showed a lot more quality and control of the game than we had done previously.

“In training this week they’ve shown more control and ability, but I always say it, there’s no point being a training ground player, you’ve got to show it out there on the dancefloor when you’ve got a crowd around you. That’s where it really matters, and hopefully they’ll show it again on Saturday.”

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Focusing more on the Cobblers, he said: “We have to make sure the players are prepared, understand what Northampton are going to do, and are also absolutely clear what we want to do to give us the best chance of winning. 

“They’re a strong side, they have a fantastic defensive record, they’ve hardly conceded any goals at all, and they’re a real threat going forward.

“One of their centre-halves is up there as the leading scorer, so we know what their threats are. But we want to play our football. Whatever we do we must try and keep that positivity going.”

The central defender alluded to is Fraser Horsfall, who has eight goals to his name so far.

“If you can be good at defending set plays and attacking set plays you’ve got half a chance of being successful,” he explained. “And I’d go so far as to say that’s all levels, at Championship level it’s the same.

“At Premier League level it’s slightly different because you’ve got people with that wand of a free-kick that they can bend it in the top corner and it doesn’t matter how you try and defend it, you can’t stop it.

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“But at this level, set plays for and against are a massive part of it. We managed to get one to win it last week, which shows how important they are. We’ve got to defend them well and attack them well this weekend.

“Overall they’ve got good players who are doing well at the moment, but we have the same. It’s about who does what on the day.

“We’ve got to make sure we win as many individual battles as we can, we play better football than they do, we defend our set plays well and try and give them a threat from set plays.

“It’s no different to what we said when we went to Orient, and it worked. It’s no different from what we said against Rochdale, we won but it didn’t work, and against Oldham, exactly the same thing in that we played some really good stuff in the second half.

“I don’t even know what the formula is we’ve found but we’ve found something that’s worked with this group of players. That’s not to say it will work all the time, but it’s working at the moment and we’ve got to keep doing the same thing.

“Northampton will be confident, they’re a team who know how to play, they’ve got a consistent game plan that they use, it’s effective, and we have to be right on our game this weekend if we expect to get anything in terms of a result.”

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

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