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MANAGER: They're a footballing team

Paul Simpson ahead of the Fleetwood game

4 August 2023

Club News

MANAGER: They're a footballing team

Paul Simpson ahead of the Fleetwood game

4 August 2023

It’s just one more sleep until the new League One season kicks off and boss Paul Simpson spoke about what had been a good week of preparations as he and his team get ready for tomorrow's visit of Fleetwood Town.

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“It’s been very good,” he said. “If I look back at the whole of pre-season it feels like it’s been dragging because we all just wanted to get to this point.

“Thankfully we’re here now, they’ve looked lively and now we’ve got to make sure we take that into the game this weekend.

“We all accept that we weren’t at the races last weekend, but I think it’s different now because we’re preparing for something with a real meaning. I know the supporters are all looking forward to it, and so are we. We just want to get started now.

“The good thing is that the lads have lifted themselves. I said what I needed to say at the weekend to them and we discussed it again on Monday morning. This week has just been a case of doing the preparation and making sure we’re ready to go.

“As we sit here now they’re all waiting to find out what the team is going to be. We’ve made little changes during training but I’m sure if they think long and hard about it they’ll know what the team is.

“We’ll do the final preparation on Friday morning and name the team for them. We’ll show them bits of Fleetwood and we’ll just get cracking on from there.

“I’ve had a conversation with them all today [Thursday] to tell them if they aren’t in the starting 11 they still have a role to play if they’re on the bench, and if they aren’t on the bench they still have a role to play.

“Over the season we’re going to need everybody to be prepared and wait for their opportunity.”

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A difficulty at the start of any season is knowing how the opposition will turn out on the opening day.

“We’ve had four of Fleetwood’s games watched, and I’ve watched three of them on my computer,” he explained. “We have an idea about what they’ll do, but I can’t guarantee what their team is going to be, just like they can’t guarantee what ours will be.

“We have an idea of what to expect and we also know what we have to try and do to combat that. I still do think a lot of it is about us.

“Maybe as we go through the season and get a clearer picture of the opposition there may be a few tweaks, but we’re going to have a framework of what we want to do.

“We might make some tweaks along the way based on the opposition, but that’s the same as it was last year.

“Anybody who watched us last season will know how we started games and would have known there were games where we changed to a 4-3-3, or had two midfielders and three up front with five at the back. I imagine that will be the same this season as well.”

With the focus more on the visiting Cod Army, he told us: “I think it will be a tough challenge to start with. They’re a team that are used to being in League One now, they’ve had a good few seasons there.

“They’re a footballing team, they want to play out from the back, they’ve also got a bit of fire in their bellies, a bit of bite about them which you’d expect from their manager, and they’ve got some players who can be a real threat.

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“It’s going to be a tough challenge but that’s what we’re going to get every week in League One. And we’ve got to be ready to stand up to that challenge and try and be better.

“With the amount of time they’ve been in League One they are a benchmark. It shows what can actually be achieved, if you’ve got the right sort of backing.

“We’ve got to hope we can have a good few years to keep building and who knows where it can take us. We all want to be successful and try and achieve something but if somebody offers me mid-table at the moment I’ll snap their hands off because it means we’ve been building and we’re better.

“That’s not me being pessimistic in any way. That’s me being real. I want to make sure we stay in the league this season, because that’s the best way to keep this club moving forward.

“I don’t know how much has been advertised about it but there’s a new Sky TV deal coming out next season and there’s a big jump in finances, and we need to be bringing that sort of money into our club to help keep us moving forward. We’ve got to do everything we possibly can to make sure we’re in it.”

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With a near full squad to choose from there most certainly are selection headaches of a good kind ahead.

“If I’m going to be honest it’s really difficult because nobody believes that they don’t deserve to play,” the gaffer said. “Everybody thinks they should be in the starting 11.

“That’s something we’ll evolve over the next few weeks because we’ve got Saturday-Tuesday games for the first two weeks, and hopefully the same at the end of the month if we can get ourselves through to the next round of the cup.

“The games will come thick and fast and there are a couple of areas where we need to manage players and make sure they’re ok. The team that starts the game on Saturday is very likely to not be the team which starts on Tuesday, because of us having to manage the bodies.

“There are a couple who aren’t fully up to speed yet so they’ve got to keep working their way into it. It’ll manage itself and the players have got to understand that there are only 11 who can start and seven more who can be on the bench, and I trust them enough to be professional about that and go about it in the right way.”

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