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MANAGER: A nice way to sign off

Paul Simpson on the final home game of the season

1 May 2022

With everything else that went on last week it would have been easy to have viewed the Saturday afternoon game as something of a sideshow, but that certainly wasn’t the case for manager Paul Simpson, who had reminded his players that they had a job to do with a large home supporting contingent expected.

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“It was a nice way to sign off, without a doubt,” he said. “The big thing I’ve been saying all week to them is that these are horrible days if you don’t do them properly, and you end up bringing the players back onto the pitch for one man and his dog and there’s no atmosphere, so it was nice.

“I thought we actually played really well and we probably showed as much control in a game as we have done.

“I haven’t seen it, but we gave a bit of a soft penalty away, and I’m led to believe it was a penalty, so we put ourselves under pressure.

“Overall I was really pleased with some of the football we played and they did the things we’ve been asking them to do. I want width from our wing backs, and I want forward thinking from those areas.

“I want us to switch the play when we can, because we’re supporting each other, and I thought we did it really well.”

“I thought the second goal was an excellent football goal,” he added. “There was really good play and it started in our right wing back position, then we came out and switched the play.

“Again, we got into some good areas and we thrashed crosses too high or too far, but that one was a good cross and I’m really pleased for Lewi Alessandra that he got on the end of it and tapped it in.

“These goals and things mean a lot to the lads, it’s what you’re in football for. I’m sure they’ve enjoyed it today and it is a good way to sign off what has been, I think it’s fair to say, a really disappointing season.”

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And, having spoken during the week about the need to do things properly, he told us: “It’s massive, absolutely massive that we did that.

“My three things I said about what we needed from this game was performance, pride, and the final one was just make it our day.

“We had to make it about us, not about Stevenage, by the way we went about it. I thought the performance was probably as good as we’ve had, certainly for a good few weeks.

“I thought they played with a bit of pride and gave the supporters something to shout about, and encouraged them to stay at the end, which was good to see.

“When we went round the pitch at the end, that’s not only the supporters showing appreciation for the players, that’s the players showing their appreciation for the supporters as well.”

And the victory made it five wins from the seven of the home games he’s been in charge since he returned to the club at the end of February.

“I think it’s excellent,” he commented. “If you want to have any level of success you have to win games at home. If you can, and nick a win or a draw away from home, that’s what it’s all about.

“We have to make this a really tough place to come. We’ve got to. It’s a big pitch, so when you play against good sides in the league, they like it here because there’s plenty of room.

“I thought we used our pitch to our advantage. David the groundsman does a great job, making it as good as it is. We have to make sure we use it.

“I talk and talk until I’m blue in the face about getting into good areas so we can come out one side and switch it the other way, and because we’ve got width from our wing backs, and the second goal was a great example of that.

“The way we came down the right hand side, switched it out the other way,the  ball goes in and Lewi Alessandra gets on the end of it. That’s what I want.

“I find it really entertaining to watch. When it comes to a match day, as much as I’m a bit closer to the pitch and can probably be heard a bit more by the players, I’m a fan on the side and I want to see good football, and be entertained.

“I thought some of the stuff we played today was really good. And Joe Riley has shown us that he can be effective in the midfield role he likes.

“I’ve been critical of the players that we don’t shoot enough, or run forward to score goals, we don’t have that desire. Our record this season shows we don’t have enough of that.

“I was so pleased to see him pull his right foot back and strike the ball and it go in. I was really pleased with the second one to see a striker get inside the six-yard box.

“We have to score more goals. It’s not good enough to have got the goal record we’ve got after 45 games. We need to be better. If we can get players who have got a desire to score, it’s got to help us.

“We took him because he looked uncomfortable. I’ve been told that he overstretched, and he felt his groin, so there was no point in taking any chances.

“It was the same with Jack Ellis, he was just getting tight in his hamstring, so we took him off. It’s one of those things when you work hard you get little strains and bits of soreness.

“I hope at the end of next Saturday we’ll have 11 who have that feeling because they’ve worked really hard.”

And part of scoring more goals is the approach play, with the ball from Jack Armer for the Alessandra strike a particular peach.

“Jack’s a defender by nature, which you have to have a bit of that as a wing-back, but he’s also a really good athlete,” he explained.

“He’s got a good physique, not massive for a centre half, but he showed he’s got the energy to get up and down.

“He was really clean and tidy with the way he passed the ball, and his composure on the ball, so there were a lot of positives from him. It’s something for him to build on.”

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

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.


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