MANAGER: Showing an ability to adapt

United currently sit in the play-off places and have ball number 14 in the Emirates FA Cup second-round draw thanks to a squad effort which has seen every member of the squad step up, and stand up to be counted, whenever they’ve been called upon.

But with the summer recruitment drive having added quality in depth, manager Paul Simpson confirmed that none of it comes as a surprise, rather an expectation that if you’re part of the dressing room, you’re in there for a reason.

“It’s what we’ve got, we can’t change it,” he told us. “Everybody is in the squad because we think they’re good enough.

“Jack Ellis kept his place in the side because he deserved to be in there after what he did last week, and Taylor Charters deserved the same.

“Jordan Gibson got back into it because of injuries to Jack Stretton and Kris Dennis and he’s popped up with a goal. He ran, he got in behind and he’s caused problems.

“Everybody has to be ready. Nic Bollado, after the other night when he played for the youth team and they got mauled against Fleetwood, he probably thought he wouldn’t get a chance. He’s gone on and done well.

“Every single one of them has to be ready. I’ve told them after the game that everybody has to get recovered properly and ready to go again because we’re missing Mells and that means somebody will get a chance. They have to take it.”

“Players have to be able to perform and sometimes adapt,” he added. “We’d have had real problems without it when you think of the injury situation.

“But this is the good thing about this group, they’re showing an adaptability to turn their hand to another role, or change it during games. That’s what having a good mentality about them is all about.

“Nobody looks at me and says are you winding me up, asking me to go there? I spoke to Taylor at half-time on Saturday and I told him that I was going to have to change it after 10 or 15 minutes.

“I’d asked Tobi to run himself into the ground so I told him I was going to send him up front. He just looked at me and said not a problem. He knew he was going to do it and he wasn’t fussed.

“And then we changed the shape and put Jordan alongside him to try and get the extra man and legs in midfield. It was enough to see us through with the character we showed.”

Defensively it was another structured performance, with cover provided almost every time the away team attacked.

“They’re defending for their lives, they really are,” he said. “We had to change it again and we put Callum in front of them, just to try to give us a bit more security, but as a group they are working for each other.

“Taylor and Nic ran their socks off to try to stop balls coming in, and everybody helped to defend as a team. It is disappointing that we didn’t keep a clean sheet, but the only thing that matters in a knockout competition is that you go through.

“Jack Ellis got man of the match and it wasn’t only his positional sense but his calmness as well. He made one tackle, and when he went running over, my first thought was that it was going to be a penalty.

“He actually just delayed himself a bit and then intercepted. He’s done really well, has Jack. And in that defensive line-up that we’ve had, he has been excellent.

“Fin Back’s ready, wanting to play, but he was a good squad player for us today. Jack absolutely deserved to go again.

“Everyone worked hard but I’ve just said to them, sorry to be the party pooper, it’s heads on to Tuesday night because I want a performance and a result there as well.”

“The players on the bench, I want more of them who are really ready,” he concluded. “The big thing that it does, when you’ve got people like Fin on the bench, and Sonny Hilton on the bench, whoever is back, it gives us options and strength in depth to be able to change it when we need to.

“I also want Omari back fit, Ben Barclay back fit, Joel Senior available to give us another option. Jamie Devitt. I want these players back in the mix so we’ve got a right good group of players so we’re all doing the right things.

“It shows the spirit of the group that we’ve got, they’re all in the changing room greeting the players as they come in, and they’re all delighted and wanting to do the right things for us.”

Read Time: 4 mins