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MANAGER: We know it won't be easy

Paul Simpson ahead of the Crawley game

24 February 2023

Club News

MANAGER: We know it won't be easy

Paul Simpson ahead of the Crawley game

24 February 2023

We spoke to United boss Paul Simpson ahead of tomorrow’s League Two away meeting with Crawley Town.

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“It’s just a normal, long journey for us,” he said. “The coach is comfortable enough, we do everything the same, train on Friday morning, do our meeting before training and then get on our way, and we’ll prepare as well as we possibly can.

“There are never any complaints from the players. They know what we’ve got to do. We’ll make sure we’re right and hopefully we’re able to go and perform on Saturday.  

“We know that Crawley will come at us because they’ve got good players and a good mix of footballers. They have a mix of experience in there, with the likes of Conroy and Lynch, and there are youthful players in there with energy who get around the pitch.

“Last weekend they were missing Gladwin and Jenks, who is a good player they have in from Brighton, so I don’t know if they’ll be back. They have Telford, who has scored a lot of goals at this level, so you can look across the pitch at players who can cause problems.

“We know that, we’ll prepare for it but, as ever, it comes down to us. It’s a game that we’ve got to make sure we’re absolutely spot on for. At this stage of the season you get strange results, strange surprises, probably like we had 12-months ago when we beat Orient at their place.

“These results happen and what I’ve said to the players is that we have to do everything we can to make sure one doesn’t come our way. It has to be us who are the ones who are pleased and happy with what’s gone on through the games to come.”

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“We know it won’t be easy,” he added. “It can be an intimidating place to go, and they have a good home record.

“It’s irrelevant what’s going on outside this game, it’s about us doing the right stuff on the pitch. We’ll make sure we prepare properly, we need to make sure we start the game properly and, if we can go about our business right and not give them any lifts, it should allow us to get on the front foot and cause them some problems.

“What we don’t need to happen is that we start sluggishly, and suddenly a team that’s scrapping for points can take a bit of confidence and belief and move on from there.

“We obviously go there feeling confident. Wins give you confidence, and the way we went about things last weekend, with the grittiness and the football we played and chances created, were really, really good.

“We need that type of strong performance again. We’ve had 13 clean sheets and I want it to go to 14 on Saturday. And with over 350 of our fans going, we’ve got to make sure that we perform properly, we give them something to shout about and something to smile about on the long trip home.”

And on what he’s expecting from the weekend’s opponents, he said: “I look at Crawley and think they’re in a bit of a false position. Or, it could possibly be a really false position as they have three or four games in hand on the teams around them, and could climb that table.

“We’ve got to make sure we do it properly. I’ve watched their games this week, their recent games, and they play some good football. They’re trying to play a really positive style of football.

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“We can’t come anywhere near the sort of money they’re paying for people like Telford, way over double what we can afford to pay. It hasn’t worked so far, they’re now on their third manager of the season, and they’ll want to put it right.

“The challenge for us is to keep pushing ourselves on, keep improving, demanding of each other and hopefully we can keep ourselves at least third in the table.”

As mentioned by the gaffer, this stage of the season sees teams at both ends of the table giving it everything for their own important reasons.

“The way it is now, there are very few teams with nothing to play for,” he commented. “At the bottom in the middle, at the top, you’re thinking about important points.

“After this we know we have Grimsby, Swindon, Gillingham, they’re all tough for different reasons. The big thing for us is we’ve got a lot to play for. We can achieve something if we go and do our job properly.

“Regardless of what the league place says about a team, we just know we’ve got to do our job properly, and if we do that, we’ll be ok.

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“We know they want the points so we have to make it a horrible afternoon for them. If Crawley earn the right to stay up, credit to them, fair play.

“We’ve got to earn the right to stay up in the top places. If we can do our job properly we at least stay third and then we’ll take whatever comes if people around us don’t do their job right.”

With 19 players available, there are selection posers ahead for the United boss.

“It’s a great challenge,” he confirmed. “It’s what you want - I want to have options. We’ve had periods this season where the team has literally picked itself because we haven’t had options.

“We have 19 fit players to take with us, 17 outfield players, it’s up to us to get that right, make sure we pick the right team, but more importantly it’s up to the players to go and do it together.

“I said it last week, we’re not going to do this with just 11 individual players, we’re going to have to stick together. This week there’ll be one who misses out, they have to make sure they’re a positive influence around the group.

“Those seven lads who are on the bench have got to be prepared and ready to come on and finish the game for us and get us over the line for a positive result. It’s going to take us all.

“That’s all I want from it now, a really positive mindset that we’re going there to get a win, that’s what I’m talking about. Not going and not losing, I’m talking about going and winning, and that’s the mentality we have to have.”

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