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MANAGER: I don't know what degree it is

Paul Simpson on Jamie Devitt and on team selection

13 March 2022

Club News

MANAGER: I don't know what degree it is

Paul Simpson on Jamie Devitt and on team selection

13 March 2022

Saturday afternoon’s hard earned home win over Northampton Town made it four wins from four for manager Paul Simpson, and it also saw the starting eleven remain unchanged through the same spell of fixtures.

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MATCH REPORT: Northampton

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But United’s boss confirmed that there could be an enforced switch on Tuesday night, with midfielder Jamie Devitt having been replaced with just over an hour played against the Cobblers.

“We’re at a stage of the season where I don’t think we really need to rest players,” he said. “Maybe with hindsight I should have changed it for this game, because it looks like Dev’s got a little bit of a hamstring strain.

“I can’t say any more than that because I don’t know what degree of it that is. Maybe I should have made some changes, but I’ve actually tried not to be too clever.

“I considered making changes for Rochdale and I had to slap myself for trying to be clever about it. It’s about being really simple, straightforward, and I think the team we started with deserved to play.

“The boys left out didn’t deserve that – Lewi Alessandra, Mitch Roberts and Owen Windsor – but I told them that I’ve got to pick what I think is the best 18.

“I thought that bringing Rod McDonald and Brennan Dickenson back was the right thing to do. The door will open for somebody else on Tuesday, possibly, depending on how Dev is.

“Everybody has got to be ready, and if they can all be professional as a group then we’ll have 11 good results coming up.”

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“They all need to be ready to play a part, every single one of them,” he added. “I’ve said all along that has to be the case.

“It’s something we used to talk about when I was with the development team at the FA. We spoke about starters and finishers and the fact that subs have to be as effective as the players who set the game off.

“Every player in that dressing room has to be in it together, and I even appealed to the three lads I’ve mentioned who didn’t make it for this game when I said to them that I just ask you to stay with us.

“I know they’ll have disappointment and frustration, but I asked them to take that out on me, not on their team mates.

“I want them all to look after each other and be as good as they can be as a unit, and come the end of the season they’ll all have something to smile about together."

The extension of the run has seen a sea change in the level of performance, with the team looking the more likely to get the result in each of the last four outings.

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“I think they’ve got the shackles off and they’ve performed, it’s as simple as that,” the gaffer commented. “It’s the players who have done this. I challenged them again at the end of the game to be the best professionals they possibly could be.

“There were a few little things this week, and there were bits before the game I wasn’t happy with. I had a little bit of a go at them because it won’t affect my life, but I’ve reminded them that if they do things properly as a pro then the rewards are unbelievable.

“I’ve seen it by being involved at Premier League and Championship level, and they’ve got to challenge themselves to be the best they can be so that they can have that kind of thing as well.

“I’m not saying they’ve got to be the best in the world, but they should push themselves every day. Let’s see what Monday brings from them when they come back in and when we start to concentrate on the next one.

“Let’s completely put to bed any doubts about staying in this division by doing the Newport game right, and then by looking at what we do against Barrow. That one, as a local derby, is a massive one that we have to get right. The challenge is there for the players to get out there and do it.”

The renewed sense of optimism comes from what appears to be a vein of confidence that has been tapped into, somehow, over the course of the last fortnight.

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“It is an easy thing to question, desire and commitment and all of that stuff when you aren’t winning games,” he agreed. “It’s really hard to put your finger on it because I haven’t got a magic wand.

“I haven’t done anything differently or anything that’s really special. I’ve just tried to free them up a little bit and, if anything, share simple information rather than anything too tactical.

“It’s about them, it is about the players, but I am really enjoying it. I go away really satisfied that the players have been able to do the job.

“I’m not playing down what I’ve done, because obviously it’s something, but it’s really about football players and what they do. They’ve grabbed the situation, they’ve ripped the head off it, and it’s worked for them.”

“Nothing changes in terms of our approach as we look to keep this going,” he continued. “It’s about doing the same things but doing them even better.

“I don’t think football is a complicated game and myself and Keith Downing and the staff at Bristol used to say that it’s about doing the same things every day, just better and better as you go on.

“Winning games gives the players more confidence and helps them to improve, so let’s see where it takes them now.

“It’s a brilliant game when you’re on a run like this, but it’s very stressful when you’re in that technical area. You have to really enjoy the highs, and this is a high, to get four wins on the trot, and I’m not even sure I got four wins on the trot last time I was here.

“I remember getting 12 losses on the trot just before we got the CVA lifted, so long may this carry on. We’ve got to remain focused and not get stupid ideas and get carried away.

“We’re still involved in a scrap and we’ve got to get as many wins as we can, as soon as possible. It’d be really nice if come Easter weekend, when we have a game on Friday and Monday, that we’re not looking over our shoulders at that point.

“Up to now the players have really responded, the fans have been excellent, and we’ve got to keep going. I don’t want us to have four wins and then 11 rubbish performances, I want us to keep it going for as long as we possibly can.

“I’ve told the players to start to prepare from tonight, enjoy a bit of time with their families, but be ready to go again on Monday.”

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

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