When we sat down to talk to defender Paul Huntington the other day a theme very quickly developed of there being a demand for more, and he confirmed that was as much for himself as it was for anyone else when we quizzed him about his own form.
“I’m my own biggest critic and there’s been a few things in games that haven’t been up to the standards I’ve set for myself,” he told us. “But in general I’ve been pleased with how it’s gone.
“It’s been good to get back playing, I didn’t play last season and I missed pre-season this year, so I had to build myself up during the first couple of games. There’s a really good feeling around the place with the fans and people you talk to in the street.
“The support has been brilliant home and away and we’ve got to keep trying to do our part to get the fans in, then keep them coming back. We’ll need them as we go into the second half of the season and we’ve got to give them something to shout about.
“There’s definitely a good feel around the place and it feels as though there’s been a real change since the manager came back, long may that continue.
“The fans have been brilliant all season. I’ve spent a lot of time in the club shop getting shirts and footballs for people, which is good to see. It was like that when I was a kid and coming down to watch David Reeves and Dean Walling, people like that.
“If we can get the younger generation in I think it’s really good for the club. We have a lot of young ones in the Warwick at home, but I’ve noticed at away games there’s definitely more younger ones going, which is really good.”
“For all of us it’s about winning,” he added. “When it comes to 5pm on a Saturday, if we’ve won I feel kind of satisfied, but the main aim is where we want to get to at the end of the season, that would be full satisfaction.
“That ten minutes after a win on a Saturday is nice, but it’s the whole aim which is more important. That feeling is why I carried on playing in the summer, it wasn’t about money or anything else, it was just that winning feeling.
“When you’re sat in the dressing room absolutely shattered and you know you’ve left it all on the pitch and come away with three points, it sets you up for a nice weekend. I listened to Jamie Carragher talking about that winning feeling on a podcast last week, and I think it’s kind of like a drug really. You just want more of it.”
With two goals to his name so far, he also insisted that was another area for improvement.
“I’ve got a couple of goals and we’ve got a few from set pieces as a team, but I think that’s something else which could be better,” he said.
“I’ve hit the woodwork once and a few have been saved, but we’ve been a threat from them of late. Morgan is claiming a shin and in for that goal at Crewe, it was my flick on. but it must have hit him because he swears it’s his goal.
“We’ve spoken about set pieces and worked on it a lot in training. We need to make sure we’re defensively sound at the other end and continue being a threat. It’s not the easiest because teams often set up with a blocker that you have to get past, but then they have a line of three or four zonal markers as well.
“If the delivery is right and the timing of your run is good then you’ve got a chance, but it’s not just about getting past your marker, you’ve got to get across or over the top of the zonal line as well.
“That’s why a lot of teams set up like that, because if it’s done well it can be effective, and it was something we did for years at Preston. We probably should have had a few more goals from them but we also could have had a few more penalties as well, but I understand that there’s a lot for the referees to look at in those situations. We’re looking to improve on that as we go into the second half of the season.”
And with the group backing the manager every step of the way, he spoke about the respect he has for the man at the helm.
“As a manager, he’s just a real genuine guy who says it as it is,” he said. “He leaves me to it really, and I respect that.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a massive character in the changing room, but other managers have said I kind of lead by example, by how I go about it, and he lets me get on with that.
“The main thing for me has been the managing part of being an older player, when to train, when to take a day off, when to do something different, and he understands that because he’s had a top career, been at some very good clubs, and has a lot of experience as a manager now.
“For me he’s the manager I’m desperate to do well for, and the lads feel that. He’s obviously loved here, you always want your managers to like you, who value you, and I feel that. I try and reward that with going out there and giving everything I’ve got on a Saturday or Tuesday.”
“We’re into the second half of the season now and as I’ve already said, I think we just need to get on a run. Build that momentum. I think we just need to concentrate on the next game and the rest takes care of itself.
“If we’re right on a match day, I feel confident going into games. If we’re not quite right, then it becomes a lot harder work than it is. The business end of the season is the last 10 games – a few managers have made reference to it, that’s the important time, but we’ve got to do the hard yards until then.
“It is very tight. We saw last week the gap was four points, there’s a lot of teams in and around the play-offs that are a bit hit and miss, win one, lose one, some are in good form but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves.
“Being the best version of ourselves, the manager’s spoken about that. If we give that, hopefully we can have no regrets, no what-ifs at the end of the season. There’s a long way to go before that. This batch of games at the end of January is going to be important, hopefully we can pick up a good points total to push on.”
Being from the city, of course, adds that extra ingredient to the incentive pot.
“I mentioned Deano and Reevesy, and I’ve seen them guys in the directors’ box with the trophy, with me as the kid trying to climb up and get up there. Maybe people will laugh at that. But it’s something to drive you on.
“That’s what we’re striving for. Bring those good times back. It was electric back then. I know the crowds, and that team was after winning the title, but I can feel the momentum building. We’ve got to continue on that and not pat ourselves on the back at where we are, but look for the next step.
“The games come thick and fast, we’ve got to react to the last game now, have a good week’s training next week and react at home. Newport have got a long journey, they won’t relish that, make sure we’re ready for the next game, then the next ones.
“Being Cumbrians, everyone in the group cares, but it is nice to have four local lads who have been playing in the team. I think that’s a big part of the club, the more young players we can get through the better.
“We’re not going to be able to go out and buy tons of players so it’s important to bring them through. It was nice after that Tranmere game for us to get that picture of us all together, especially after a good away win.
“Over the years we’ve had some good young players coming through which can only help us going forward.”
Next in line is that busy run of fixtures which will quickly start to see the division shake itself out ahead of the final sprint.
“I wouldn’t say there’s anyone in this division who can stop us achieving what we want to achieve,” he commented. “We’ve lost a few games but against the top three I think we’ve come away one goal short and we’ve maybe had a refereeing decision and a mistake involved.
“I said to a couple of the lads, this is my first year at this level so I haven’t played against a lot of these teams or players before, but I wouldn’t say there was a massive difference between the bottom teams, the ones in mid-table and the ones at the top.
“When we went to Newport early in the season they were struggling, we came away with a point after finishing that game well, but they gave as good as they got. When you play teams up the top there’s maybe the odd moment of quality to create a goal or assist, but on the whole I don’t think there’s a massive difference.
“That’s just my opinion after playing everyone, I think it just shows you’ve got to be on your metal. I feel as though if we’re right we give ourselves a great chance of winning, but if we’re not then it won’t happen, and we’ve seen that in certain games.
“There’s a lot of positivity going into the second half of the season and we’re all just desperate to achieve something.”