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MANAGER: In games, but we have to be better

More from Paul Simpson on the Port Vale game

27 August 2023

Club News

MANAGER: In games, but we have to be better

More from Paul Simpson on the Port Vale game

27 August 2023

It was a frustrated Paul Simpson who came to speak to the press after the Port Vale away defeat with him having just watched his team match the hosts without having anything to show for it come full-time.

Match Reports

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But he queried if it came down to fine margins with Port Vale taking the points from a second half penalty.

“Is it fine margins if you make absolutely ridiculous decisions like we did from the throw in, with just four minutes of the second half gone?” he asked. “Is it fine margins if we can’t find the right pass in the final third?

“Is it fine margins if you keep making wrong decisions which mean you don’t get on the end of balls, and you can’t score inside the six-yard box?

“I don’t know, I don’t know if any of that is fine margins. The goal is disgusting. It is an absolute joke of a goal and the thing that is really annoying me at the moment is that I feel as though I should take responsibility for defeats, and I don’t actually take responsibility for wins.

“I can’t take responsibility for that defeat today because that decision to do the throw in that way, across our own box, after four minutes of the second half, is an absolute totally unprofessional thing to do.

“I don’t get it. Nobody can actually explain to me why that’s a good idea. I can’t get it. There are just so many things that we have to think about.

“We started under pressure for 10 or 15 minutes, or whatever it was, I wasn’t actually looking at my watch. Then we calmed down and we actually played from our shape, and we were better.

“There was nothing in the game by the time we got to half time, absolutely nothing. We had probably the better of the chances in the first half, then we completely shoot ourselves in the foot, we go a goal down and we’ve gifted it.

“After that we were a little bit rocky until we got ourselves going again, we recovered, and we had opportunities to at least go level. I don’t know, I don’t get it.

“We certainly haven’t done enough to win the game but we’ve gifted three points to Port Vale and we simply haven’t done ourselves any favours.”

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The throw from the left flank led to a stealing of possession and a foul that gave James Wilson the chance to net from the spot, which he gratefully accepted.

“Jon [Mellish] was upset with what he’d done, but it was too late, they’d got the penalty, and you just can’t do it,” he told us. “You got punished in League Two for mistakes like that, and you’ll certainly get punished at this level. There’s no justification for it, no explanation, it’s a really poor decision.

“Do you know what, Jokull will probably get the blame because he brought the player down, but he shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place. We should not be giving the opposition an opportunity from a situation like that.

“We shot ourselves in the foot, it’s as simple as that. I’m raging, I’m absolutely raging. With the way we’ve worked and created our opportunities and we’ve come away with absolutely nothing to show for it.

“I know, everybody will look, we haven’t scored a goal again, but I know that as well. We’re getting into good areas, we’re getting good opportunities, and we talked to the players about what we wanted from this game.

“We talked about how not to go about it, and we got into those good areas and we haven’t done it properly. We haven’t got the right sort of crosses in that we wanted, and we’ve got players who are making runs across the near post, where we wanted them to go, but you get to a point where you’re pulling your hair out.

“The thing is, we have got a good team of players, I do honestly believe it. We got Sean Maguire into good areas and I thought him and Luke Plange worked their socks off and they caused problems.

“We’ve got to work the keeper more, and I keep saying that after every single game. That’s what is starting to get really frustrating for all of us, and I know it’s getting frustrating for the players as well.”

Club News

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Three changes to the starting eleven proved to be working after a stuttering start to the game.

“The starting shape wasn’t the issue it was the fact that the players didn’t play from that shape,” he explained. “They were running all over the place and getting caught out.

“After that 10 or 15 minutes when we calmed down and we did play from our shape, and we had more discipline, we actually took a decent bit of control out of the game. We had the ball, we kept it, we got into good areas and we worked the goalkeeper.

“Callum Guy had a great strike and Owen Moxon had a great strike. I think Sean Maguire will admit that he should have scored with his header in the second half, and I think we had some excellent crosses.

“Jordan Gibson put at least three in, Fin Back had two or three, but we haven’t managed to get anybody on the end of them. That comes down to having bravery to go and get into those areas where you’re going to score.

“You might miss, but you have to get in there to give yourself that opportunity to get either outcome. I’d rather somebody gets there and misses rather than stay out the way, and we definitely won’t get on the end of it.”

A recurring topic through the first month of the campaign has been the need to turn good approach play into goals.  

“The fact is that it’s the most important bit,” he said. “You can do everything between the 18-yard boxes but if you don’t do those two right it counts for nothing and it causes you a serious problem.

“We’re going to have to sort it out. I’m not hiding away from it, we are in for a tough time, and if we don’t sort it out we’re in for an even tougher time.

“We talked about performance, we told them to get their performance right, and a lot of the overall performance has been right. We haven’t finished things off and we have absolutely gifted Port Vale with an opportunity to win the game 1-0, and that’s the really disappointing thing about it.

“It’s about how we react now. It’s about how they take on board the information that they’re getting and then put it into practice because otherwise they’re going to waste a wonderful opportunity that we’ve got at League One level.

“We can all see we’re in games, every game we’ve been in it. We’ve had opportunities where you’ve got to be better. It’s a steep learning curve for us. We’re finding out the hard way. I want us to turn the corner, I want us to be able to do it.

“I can assure everybody that we’re doing everything we possibly can to try and turn the corner with this group of players. I even think the players are wanting to turn the corner. They’re trying to do the right things.

“What we do have to do, though, is be even better. We have to be even more professional in the way we go about it, how we live our lives, how we train, how we recover after games, how we prepare going into games, how we go about the games.

“Instead of having 30 minutes in the first half and a spell in the last whatever it was today, we have to have a complete performance. When we do get that, we will start getting results, and that’s what everybody wants quickly.”


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