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MANAGER: We have to match them

Paul Simpson ahead of tomorrow's game

7 October 2022

Club News

MANAGER: We have to match them

Paul Simpson ahead of tomorrow's game

7 October 2022

United boss Paul Simpson spoke to us ahead of the Saturday trip to Hartlepool at his Friday afternoon press conference.

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“They’re the same as us, they’ve drawn six, even though they’ve only won the one,” he said. “They’re a team that’s hard to break down and they showed that with the result they got at Mansfield last Friday.

“They’ll be on a high after the way they won it late in midweek, and they have a crowd that really gets behind them.

“They make it as positive an atmosphere as possible with the numbers they bring in, so we’ll have to cope with that and make sure we play our game. If we aren’t right we’ll be undone, but if we are right I know we’ll continue our unbeaten run.”

Midweek offered up an opportunity to get across to the north-east and see this weekend’s opponents up close and personal.

“It’s always easy to watch a game on video, or on the laptop, but it is nice to see them first-hand,” he confirmed. “We don’t get many opportunities to do that, so I was able to see them and how they play, and the week after we have Doncaster so it was two birds with one stone.

“Hopefully it’ll prove to have been a worthwhile journey. The message I’ve given to the lads every single day is that they have to be at it.

“It’s about how we prepare between now and kick off, it’s about the food they eat and whether they hydrate properly and the time they go to sleep, then making sure they eat the right things pre-match and how they go through their warm-up.


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“We will get into them again tomorrow because we want them to be totally focused. I’m led to believe we got done at Hartlepool last year, which was the start of a bit of a slippery slope.

“I’ve told them today that this can’t be the start of a slippery slope. We have to make sure our performance is right. If it’s not, Hartlepool have got enough fight in them and individuals that can cause us problems. We’ve got to be bang on it to make sure we come away with a positive result.”

As we saw, Pools boss Keith Curle has a knack of finding a way to dig sides out of a corner, particularly during the early stages.

“It’s always about players, not about who the manager is,” he said. “I don’t know what Keith has done differently to when Paul Hartley was there, but he’s obviously done something.

“He knows how to generate a spirit in the dressing room. They keep fighting to the end, so it will be tough. We have to match it.

“It’s a fantastic atmosphere inside that ground. We’ll have great support, even though I find it hard to understand why it’s a local derby when it took me nearly two hours to get there the other night.

“I suppose that comes down to where we are in terms of location. Let’s just make sure we’re up for it. It will be noisy, let’s hope the fans are supporting the team and not getting involved in anything stupid, which I believe went on last year.


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“We don’t need that as a football club, our supporters have been magnificent since I came back in February so I hope they go to watch the football and support the team. Hopefully the players will do enough on the pitch to keep them focused on our game.”

“We’ve spoken this week about trying to get more control in games because we want to be turning the draws we’ve seen into wins,” he continued.

“That’s why we have to make sure we’re right. If we’re on our game, as we have been on most occasions since I came to the club, then we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

The training week has been designed to reenergise and reinvigorate, with high standards demanded at every step.

“I changed the week up a little bit this week because I felt as though we were getting into too much of a routine,” he told us. “We had two really good training days on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We were able to get onto Gretna and do the full session I wanted on Wednesday despite the bad weather. Thursday was a rest day and we were back in today.

“We weren’t able to go on the grass but I don’t see that as a problem. It isn’t an issue for me, when we flooded in 2005 we had weeks of training in the Neil Centre and it didn’t do us any harm then.

“As long as the players’ minds are right and they prepare properly. We’ve done everything we would normally do in terms of looking at what Hartlepool are going to do. I suppose this is where the advantage comes that we just focus on us and what we do.

“We’ve spoken about the need to rediscover the belief. I don’t think we had it in the game against Crewe. I thought we had belief at Grimsby and a little bit away at Newport but not as much as I wanted.

“I keep telling them we’re close to being a good side. We’re not a good side yet, but we’re close and we have the choice. We can go that extra yard or extra step to go and become a good side.

“We can talk about it and train for it, but it has to be out on the grass where it really matters. That’s the challenge that is always there as a footballer. When you’re out on the pitch you have to go and show you deserve to be there.”

“I think you have to demand better all the time,” he concluded. “We’re in League Two, we want to be higher than that. I think we’re tenth at the moment and I want to be higher than that.

“I’m not saying we’re definitely good enough to be higher, but I think you’ve got to aspire to do that and push each other. If the best that we are is tenth, but we’ve given it everything, then you take it.

“If we have the potential to be better than tenth, and I think we do have that potential, you have to show it. Hartlepool will believe they’re better than the bottom places and they’ve shown that in the last two games by taking four points.

“We have to make sure that this little positive run they’re on doesn’t carry on this weekend and we give ourselves a chance of being higher than tenth.”

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