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MANAGER: The players have made a big statement

More from Paul Simpson on the Saturday win

20 November 2022

Club News

MANAGER: The players have made a big statement

More from Paul Simpson on the Saturday win

20 November 2022

Saturday afternoon’s away win was a lesson in patience and ruthless, match turning football that saw the Blues come back off the ropes at the start of the second half to ultimately dominate and turn the screw.

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“We got off to a great start,” manager Paul Simpson said after the full-time whistle had blown. “Unfortunately we didn’t carry on the way we wanted.

“For long periods of the first half they dominated the ball, as we knew they would. They’ve done it against most teams, but they dominated it in areas where I wasn’t really worried.

“It was then a really disappointing start to the second half, especially to concede in the way we did from the second phase of a set piece.

“After that there was a bit of a spell where it looked like they might be the ones to get a win out of it.

“But we pulled ourselves together, rallied round a bit, and that’s a big statement the players have just made there. I think that’s probably our most complete performance since I came back last season. I’m absolutely delighted.”

In a pressure cooker environment it can be easy to crumble when a blow like an equaliser comes along, and the United boss admitted that he had some concerns that it might go that way.

“I thought we were going to, not so much crumble, but they had the impetus, they were the team who looked like they would be more of a force,” he told us.

“I think defensively we’ve been outstanding. Corey Whelan coming in for Morgan in the first half, Hunts, the way they defended.

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“Jack Ellis was outstanding in the way he defended and got forward as well. Jack Armer stuck to his task. Overall it was a really big, strong performance and I don’t care what anybody says against Salford, they are probably a strong a squad as there is in this league.

“It’s been assembled with a really generous ownership group who’ve allowed them to do it, and I thought we earned the right to take the points.”

“To do it at a place like this, against a team that are rightly one of the fancied teams, we’ve run all over them, played some great football, scored some excellent goals and put it all together to make it a very good performance,” he continued.

“Like I say, I didn’t think we started the second half very well, we allowed them to get some momentum, so I changed the shape in the first half just to see if we could try to stem that a bit.

“I thought we coped better with a couple of good half chances leading up to the break. Fin Back had a great chance when he hit he post and Hunts had one headed off the line, so we had the chances to add to the tally.

“They got their goal and that was disappointing to see us concede from the second phase of a set piece. We need to tighten up on that. They looked to step on but once we got that second goal we grew in stature and went for the jugular.

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“That’s a lovely feeling for me sat watching once we’ve got a three-goal cushion, because I think I’m right in saying that I don’t think I’ve had that since I came back here.

“Full credit to every member of this group, staff and players together, because we prepared well, we went out with a plan, the players implemented it, adapted when it wasn’t quite working, and they finished it off in the right way.”

As expected, there were spells where Salford saw plenty of the ball, but without ever really raising the temperature.

“I did say to the lads they were going to see long spells where they kept it,” he agreed. “They regularly get close to 60% possession, but they aren’t scoring too many goals off it at the moment.

“I did feel that if we kept our shape and didn’t panic, we could get a win. I’m really pleased we got through the nervy bit of the second half, and I’m happy about the fact we kept our heads.

“One of the things I learned really early as a manager was not to hit the panic button if it’s not going your way.

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“You have to trust in the players and in what you decided to do, and then you hit a point in the game where it’s either worked or it hasn’t. That’s when you make the tougher decisions on how to readjust, not when it first looks a bit edgy.

“I think the way we stuck to the task, to getting close to people, that stopped them from playing and being the good footballers they are. Their midfielders are good players, some of the subs coming on are good players, but we nullified the threat.

“The lads we had to bring on in Corey, Jack, Jordan and Stretts, they slotted in and did a brilliant job for us. It’s everything - the work rate, desire, competing, quality in the final third, and maybe with a bit more quality it could have been even more emphatic.”

As for the message an away win like that sends, he said: “I think it’s a message to the players to get them to believe what they’re capable of.

“We have to keep going. We’ve got another really tough game next week in the FA Cup that I’m so looking forward to.

“I like the FA Cup, it’s a really important competition, not only for the history of the FA Cup but the financial rewards we could possibly get if we can get ourselves through.

“All I could say to them at full time was well done. I said that’s the best they’ve been since I came back. I know it’s a different group, but that’s a big performance.

“I felt we could put a marker down today, at this place, with the backing we got from our supporters, I thought it could be one of them games to do that.

“I had it in my mind we would win this game 3-0, I’m disappointed we conceded because that should have been another clean sheet on the tally.

“If you want to be successful you need a number of clean sheets. That’s one thing we’ve let get away, but I’ve just said well done and let’s get ready for next week.”


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