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MANAGER: Our mentality has to be right

Paul Simpson ahead of the Saturday Harrogate game

3 February 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Our mentality has to be right

Paul Simpson ahead of the Saturday Harrogate game

3 February 2023

United head into the meeting with Harrogate on Saturday in a fine run of form, with the target of five wins on the bounce set firmly in their sights.


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But, as ever, nothing is being taken for granted as the mix of old heads and new arrivals for the Sulphurites could prove to cause problems.

“The run has been brilliant, we’ve had a really good run of results, but you know what I’m like,” manager Paul Simpson said. “We can really enjoy it, but it’s gone now, the only thing it counts for is the points tally.

“It’s about the next game and, with that in mind, I’ve had a couple of occasions against Harrogate since my return to the club and neither of them have been pleasant. I don’t want that again this weekend, I want a proper performance from us.

“I can’t guarantee the result but I can demand a good performance. I want the players to be absolutely focused when they go into this game. If we do it right on Saturday and get another good result then it makes what we did on Tuesday even bigger.”

“To be fair, we didn’t play well over there earlier in the season but we nicked a point late on and that’s the sort of resilience we’ve been showing,” he added. “There’s a togetherness and a great team spirit in there and they’re playing with some quality as well.

“I’ve heard some ridiculous comments from the other night that we didn’t carve them open, I’m sorry, but that’s not what I saw. In the second half our goals came from cutting through.

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“I accept that the first goal was offside, I’ve got no arguments about that, and I’m just delighted that the officials sent one our way after the three apologies we’ve received when it didn’t. Everyone says these things work out, but I reckon that means we’re still owed two.

“If we’d only won the game by one goal then I’d accept the comments, but when you’ve won by 5-1 that doesn’t come down to luck. That’s a team who are doing some carving.

“Mox’s ball for Garner’s goal was top class, and he did his jinking run ahead of Omari’s goal, and we were constantly finding ways to go through.

“We’ve just got to keep working hard and more of those moments will come for us. Let’s also keep doing it for the supporters because they have been beyond magnificent, and we want that to continue as well.”

On what Harrogate could bring to the game, he told us: “Like I say, they’ve given us problems on both occasions since I came back, and I don’t want that to be the case again.

“They’ve added people this week, and they’ve made a few signings over the window because they know they need to try and do something.

“I think they’ve got some really good players and it’s the same as what I said when I went to Rochdale, I really don’t understand why they’re down there with the players they’ve got.

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“They have a core of really good players and strikers who can get goals, particularly Armstrong, and we’ve just got to make sure that we’re absolutely on it.

“Our mentality has to be right, our performance standards have to stay high, and we have to keep the energy levels up. If we do all of that we should cause them problems as well.”

Does this element of certain clubs becoming a ‘bogey team’ have any credence at all?

“It doesn’t come into my thinking,” he insisted. “I don’t believe in that kind of thing. I do actually remember having a bit of a go at our Doc Howarth back in the day, when I was here first time round.

“He made a comment to me one Friday morning when I was actually in a good mood, and he told me he wasn’t looking forward to the game at the weekend. Whoever we were playing, he said it was one of our bogey teams and I lost it a little bit with him.

“I told him to shut up because it felt like we were the only club in football who had 91 other bogey teams, and all that was telling me was that we hadn’t been very good up to that point.

“Let’s get rid of these thoughts about what’s happened before, it’s gone, what’s happened in previous games has no bearing at all on Saturday.

“If we aren’t very good on Saturday we’ve done it to ourselves, that’s the only reason. If we’re good, if we’re on it, it doesn’t matter what the results have been against them before this, we’ll be giving ourselves a chance.”

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Looking at his own group, there are some almighty selection headaches with every player continuing to show that they’re ready to play their part.

“They’re great headaches to have,” he agreed. “One of the staff asked me what I was thinking about the team this morning and I just said I didn’t know.

“I wanted to watch them in training and see what they were like. I will name the team on Friday morning so they will know it, but it gives me nice problems.

“That was Ben’s first start in a first team game since August, so it was incredible for him to go and put on a performance like he did. I accept he got cramp at the end, and even the own goal is unfortunate because he’d told me a couple of minutes earlier that he was getting cramp, he just struggled to make that extra recovery.

“We put Joe Garner and Omari in and it was a seamless transition, so they’re all chomping at the bit to be involved. It’s just up to us to try and select the right team again and hope the group stay together.

“We have to be full foot down now. I always talked about the last 12 games of the season and peaking for those, we’re getting towards those now. They’re still a challenge and we’ve got some right tough ones in the last 12, but I think we’ve got a really interesting month first.

“We’ve got Wimbledon, Mansfield, Colchester and Crawley which are some tough games, but it’s in our hands if we go and do it properly. If we do, we’ll be sat in a really good position come the end of February.”

The next step on that journey is indeed Saturday, and that opportunity to take it to five consecutive victories.

“That’s the next challenge, we have to keep building and keep moving on,” he commented. “We’ve now got a really good run of games coming up, and if we do it properly we give ourselves a lovely full week of preparation next week where they’ll get a couple of extra days to rest and recover after this intense few weeks.

“We’ve got to do Saturday properly first, and if we do that we know we’ll still be sat third and we can move onto the next one.”

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