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Club News

MANAGER: Hopefully it gives us belief

Paul Simpson on learning lessons along the way

18 August 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Hopefully it gives us belief

Paul Simpson on learning lessons along the way

18 August 2023

The atmosphere through the second half on Tuesday night was incredible, with everyone pulling together as the Blues pushed not only for the equaliser, but for their first three points.

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When asked about the impact of that ‘bounce’ effect, manager Paul Simpson said: “I’ve definitely felt it, and you could feel it in the second half of the game.

“We felt it in the changing room and you could feel it coming from the supporters as well. That’s really important because the fans know what they’re seeing. They know what they’re watching and I think that matters if you’re getting a response like that.

“We’re in an entertainment industry and we have to give them what they want to see. We’ve got to keep doing it, they need to see that more often than not.

“We’ve got to keep working and trying to build so that we get better. Hopefully the players will take a lot of belief from what happened in that second half against Wigan.”

And it came from a positive approach with crisp, purposeful football at its core.

“I thought we were controlled at Oxford as well, to be honest,” he commented. “I thought we moved the ball there with real control and patience, but we just didn’t trouble the keeper.

“In the second half the other night we were more aggressive about our running and with our pressing, and we looked better for it.

“Maybe the shape helped them a little bit, I don’t really know, so maybe I have to take a bit of blame for that with the way we set up in the first half. We went about it in a good way after the break and I’m a big believer that football is a running game.

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“You have to run, you have to work really hard for as long as you possibly can. The lads did that and that was a really pleasing thing to come out of it. Everybody has to take confidence from what they did.

“When you step up and you get tested at the next level, there’s always that little bit of an imposter syndrome that we’ve talked about where you wonder whether you’re worthy of this and whether or not you should really be here.

“I know that’s something that’s gone on for donkey’s years, that’s always in the back of people’s minds, and it’s only recently that a title has been put to it.

“Maybe there has been a little bit of that, in terms of a lack of belief, but I thought we got that back once we started to play the way we know we can. We have to use it as a catalyst to move forward.

“We know this is another level, we’ve found that, and I’m going to be honest, it’s surprised me at just how much of a difference it is.

“I thought Wigan were as good a team as we’ve played since I came back to this football club. That’s going to be the challenge for us, we have to get to the level we reached in the second half and maintain it for as long as we possibly can.”

“To do that I think you have to keep learning lessons,” he added. “I go away and I think about everything I’ve done when I’m driving home, going through what my day has been and what I could or should have done better. I think about things I could have done differently.

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“When I thought about the Oxford game and reflected on Harrogate and Fleetwood along with that, and how it’s all gone so far, I just thought we had to try something different.

“I knew we weren’t being enough of a threat in the final third and that needed to change. I felt that when we were up against a lone striker, whether it was two wide players or two just behind him, we had too many players who weren’t doing a job and who weren’t contributing.

“I decided to change that and I think the back four worked. I thought the midfield worked as well, but the shape of the front three didn’t quite work for us in the first half. If I was to do it again it might work this time, you just don’t know.

“You’ve just got to try and learn as you go along, you can try things within that, and I always have this thing in my mind that you have a framework that you’re working from and then you can make slight adjustments to it.

“That’s what it was for us on Tuesday. It’ll be different again on Saturday, but hopefully we’ll find the right formula that gets us the right result.

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“When you look at our goal, it’s a shot from just inside the 18-yard box that takes a couple of deflections that unsettles the goalkeeper and we score off the rebound. If you’re not brave enough to have that first shot from Sean Maguire, there’s no ricochet in the first place.

“We have to be brave in the final third. I talk about two types of bravery. There’s a bravery to go thundering into tackles and putting your head where you might get kicked, but there’s a bravery to take shots on to get yourself in the final third. Hopefully we’ll see more of that.”

It goes without saying that the second half is something we all want to take into the Saturday fixture.

“Hopefully it will give us a lot of belief,” he said. “Picking up points as well, that’s really important. What I don’t want to do is get carried away because we’ve had a strong 45 minutes, we have to carry that on.

“That’s the base we’ve got to be getting to. I’m not getting carried away. It sounds like I’m jumping through hoops and singing from the rooftops because we’ve had a good second half, I’m not.

“I want it to be even better. I want us to improve. We’ve got to demand the highest possible standards we can get from the group we’ve got here, maybe over time we might be able to bring other players in who can add to it.

“But at the moment we’ve got to make sure we keep trying to improve, because that’s the way we’re going to make it an enjoyable season.”


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