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MANAGER: We need to sort what we do in the final third

Paul Simpson on this season's lack of goals

9 May 2022

The Blues ended the season with 39 league goals to their name following the nil return at Valley Parade on Saturday – sadly equalling an unwanted club record from the 1986/87 season – and manager Paul Simpson spoke afterwards about the need for that are to be improved, almost as a priority.

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“I’ve been here for 15 games, so I’ve had just under a third of a season, so unfortunately that record is to do with me as well,” he said. “It’s to do with us as a football club and it’s something we must improve on.

“We’ll try everything to get players in who can score goals and who have that composure in the final third to make a difference.

“Whether it’s a shot or a cross, or a better pass, we need people who can make those right decisions.

“We’ve had two or three situations here where we’ve shot from 30 or 40 yards, and we’ve seen players try to take things on from that distance on their weaker foot.

“In all of the situations where you would say things aren’t right for a shot, we’ve taken one on. Every now and again you’ll get one of those that goes in, but sadly it is only every now and again.

“We’ve got to be cuter, and we’ve got to manage the football better. I can’t fault them for the way they’ve gone at it and the passion they’ve shown, but we can criticise the way we handled ourselves in the final third.”

“It’s absolutely something we need to address, but left-sided centre backs and strikers who can score goals are the hardest to find,” he continued. “We have to do it, we’ve got to find somebody.

“We’ve got to find a focal point for our attack because we do get into good areas. We’re not bad in two thirds of the pitch but it’s the final third where we’re not doing enough.

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“Sadly I think the scoring record of 39 goals this season tells a story. We need somebody with a desire to score, but we also need some legs in midfield as well, some real energy.

“Brennan Dickenson’s not an out and out midfielder, Jordan Gibson’s not, Lewi Alessandra certainly isn’t, and that’s our three midfielders we’ve had in the team today.

“I accept we’ve lost Callum and Jamie Devitt, and Joe Riley, but you cannot lose three players and then have to play three other midfielders out of position.

“It tells you you’ve got a bit of an issue. We have to get a better balance to the squad, improve it in all areas - and I mean all areas. And that’s what we’ll try and do.”

Looking more at the opportunities to add to the tally at Bradford, he told us: “There was a chance at the far post in the first half after some great football, but Kris missed the touch, and we had other opportunities where we made bad decisions.

“Should we shoot, cross or play a final pass, and we kept getting the option we chose wrong. We have to be more sensible and we’ve got to manage games much better. That’s why we’re looking for the personnel to do that.

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“We haven’t scored more than two goals in a game this season, and that also tells a story. It’s not right. I can’t fault the players in terms of their attitude, they absolutely worked their socks off.

“It’s that final third we let ourselves down, we don’t have the quality in there to find the right pass, to make the right decision, to get the finish on the end of it. Unfortunately you can do everything between the boxes, but if you don’t get it right in those two boxes you’ve got a serious problem.”

“Make no mistake about it, there has to be changes, it’s as simple as that,” he concluded. “You cannot go through a season and only score 39 goals out of 46 games.

“It’s not good enough. I’m part of that, I have to take responsibility for that as well, we also have to take the responsibility and have the desire to try and get a better group next season so we don’t see anything like it again.”

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