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MANAGER: He deserved it

Paul Simpson on an award for Feeney and community work from Simeu

31 March 2022

Defender Morgan Feeney romped home with the fan vote for the Football League World League Two Player of the Month for March with his goal against Oldham and his solid defensive displays combining to see him pick up the accolade.

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“I’m really pleased for him, he’s been excellent so far,” manager Paul Simpson said when he was informed about the result. “When I came in back in February one of the first things I saw was that we’d had two young centre-backs playing in the back four, Morgan and Dynel, in previous game.

“I think I’m right in saying they had about 23 appearances between the two of them, and that concerned me. That’s why I changed the shape and put Jon Mellish alongside them.

“I think the three of them together have been absolutely outstanding. They’ve been really good together. They’ve shown calmness, they’ve defended, shown unbelievable commitment.

“We talk about Morgan and the goal he scored at Oldham, but it’s the amount of blocks he’s put in. It’s just the ugly defending that he does. He heads it and kicks it, which sounds really basic, but it’s not a bad trait to have.

“In football nowadays you don’t get many defenders who actually like defending, but Morgan does. He doesn’t try to do anything clever. I’m delighted for him. I didn’t realise he’d won that award and I’m chuffed to bits for him, he deserves it.”

And the 23-year-old former Evertonian has also found himself with armband duties in recent games, usually when the serving skipper has had to leave the pitch.

“I saw it right through the Everton development teams,” the gaffer explained. He came into my England Under-19s and missed out on the Euro finals because of being injured.

“I can’t remember whether he was captain of my 19s or not, but he certainly was a leader. I think that’s credit to Everton, because the way they bring their scholars up through their academy system is brilliant.

“When they get into U23 football with David Unsworth, they really do it properly. I used to enjoy watching Everton when they had an U23s game because they made it real. They made it proper football the way they went about it.

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“Unsy does work where the lads have to sleep out one night with the homeless to show them they’re in a really privileged position. It’s that sort of thing that develops the life skills for these lads.

“Morgan’s took it all on board and is producing performances now which are excellent, and keeping him in the side, and now earning him the accolades he’s just got.”

Alongside him is another youngster who has really taken Cumbria to his heart – Southampton loanee Dynel Simeu – with another two player community appearances under his belt in the space of the last two days.

“He was at Nelson Thomlinson last night [Wednesday] and that was a situation that came up late yesterday afternoon that wasn’t planned,” he commented. “Dynel was in his house here, and Gavin Skelton got a phone call to say Nelson Thomlinson had been let down at the last minute.

“Somebody had to cry out of an appearance, so Gav asked if it would be ok if Dynel did it. Of course, Dynel straight away said ‘of course I’ll do it, I’m sat at home watching telly, doing nothing better, I will definitely go’.

“The feedback I’ve had was he was absolutely different class. He stood and gave a little chat to them for 20 minutes, he just did everything I would have expected of somebody like Dynel.

“Again, that’s credit to what clubs like Chelsea are doing with their players. I’ve been down and had a day in Chelsea’s academy with Neil Bath who runs it, and the coaches there, and they really do try to do it properly.

“I’ve said this all along, when I was working with the England teams, the work that’s going on in English academies now is absolutely superb in the way they’re trying to develop these lads, not just for football but outside in the real world as well.

“That sort of thing with Dynel, it’s brilliant. I think there isn’t enough things said about positive stuff that footballers do.

“Everybody wants to have a go at footballers, and sometimes as football people we don’t do ourselves any favours and invite people to have a go at us.

“When lads do things like that in their own time, I think they deserve a lot of credit. Fair play to D for doing that.”


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