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MANAGER: Not a reflection of what we're about

Paul Simpson with his thoughts on the Saturday friendly

30 July 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Not a reflection of what we're about

Paul Simpson with his thoughts on the Saturday friendly

30 July 2023

United struggled to get themselves going as they faced Scottish Championship side Dundee United on Saturday afternoon, with the Tangerines bagging both of the game’s goals ahead of the break.

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“We were really poor right from start to finish,” manager Paul Simpson said at his post-match press conference. “The only saving grace is that it was this week, and not next week.

“We lacked sharpness, life, and it just wasn’t very good right throughout the team. We didn’t move the ball particularly well or show for each other very well. It shows why we needed the game today.

“It was difficult because the last time we played here we had 15,000 fans here, so maybe we have to hold our hands up and say we charged people too much to come to this game. Maybe that was a mistake, we could have said thank you to the fans and got some big numbers in here.

“The whole place was flat and our performance was certainly flat. I’m not blaming the fans by any stretch, we just weren’t very good today, it’s as simple as that.

“I think the fact that they’ve played four competitive games already was really clear for everybody to see.

“We’ve got to get back to work on Monday and get ourselves ready to start the season with a real tempo about us and show what we’re really like. I don’t think that was a real reflection of what we’re about.”

“It’s pre-season but there are still things you want to see, without a doubt,” he added. “The team hasn’t been picked yet.

“We’ve added Sean Maguire, and if everything goes to plan we’ll have two lads in doing medicals on Monday morning ready to come and start. Hopefully they’ll give us some real life and energy, and give everybody a lift.

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“I think in all fairness the players have been looking round waiting for new faces to come in. It can be frustrating but we’ll have those new faces on Monday ready to go and have a good week before the Fleetwood game.”

As we’ve seen in the past, a frustrating summer game can often serve the squad well ahead of the start of the season’s main business.

“We maybe needed a little bit of a wakeup call,” the gaffer commented. “Everything has gone swimmingly well from the end of last season, and pre-season has gone well.

“I’m reasonably pleased with the group that we had but I knew we needed to strengthen in forward areas, and that’s what we’ve done by adding Sean, and that’s what we will continue to try and do.

“It’s never good that a game like that happens, but if it’s going to happen I’d rather it’s today and not next Saturday. We have to use it to learn from it. We have to understand we have to really work in and out of possession. We haven’t done either side of it very well in this game.

“We had a couple of spells in the first half where we had a bit of controlled possession and got it down one side, then came out to the other side before we got into the final third. We let ourselves down in the final third, but we only had little bits of play, certainly not enough.

“Even the concentration, for the first goal we were arguing with the linesman because we thought the ball was out of play. It didn’t look like it was out of play to me on the video, but we switched off and we weren’t concentrating.

“We tried a square pass, even though we’ve talked probably from the day I’ve come in about square and back passes causing us problems, but we did it and conceded the first goal.

“The second goal, for me I think the goalkeeper should clean everything out there, even though I do think it’s a foul on him. I’d like to think that most referees would give a free kick there, but I still think Tomas [Holy] has got to be stronger.

“They are poor goals to give away and it’s a lack of concentration and a lack of focus and desire to go and do the right things. Thankfully it’s just a pre-season game and we have to learn from it.

“I just want us to have a more life than we had here, because we were a long way off it. It’s been a bit of a slow burner because I've been trying, or we've been trying, myself, Greg, we've been trying to get a group together.

“I wanted the group together earlier. We've had to be patient and we're getting into the last week now where I think we've got a strong group now with better options, if these two get over the line on Monday.”

On the opposition, he told us: “I thought they were very good, they looked like a team who already played four competitive games.

“They had a shocking start with a couple of defeats and then have picked up lately and had a couple of wins, and you could see it. You could see in the in their sharpness getting onto second balls, the way they moved the ball.

“And we talk all the time about to be successful in any game you have to win your duels. I dread to think, and I’ll have to watch it back, many times we lost duels.

“And there were spates of three or four together where we missed tackles, we lost tackles, we missed first contacts, we weren't onto second balls. And that's what football's about.

“I don't care what level you play at. I don't care whether it's a friendly or whether it's a league fixture, a cup fixture. If you lose that amount of duels, you're going to struggle and today was a big struggle. 

“They were a good side. They had some good footballers and they had life about them. It doesn't mean that we haven't got good players, because I think we have.

“I think we've got some really good players. We just lacked that real spark and energy about us, and as a group of staff and a group of players, we've all got to get it back for next weekend because we turned it into a long slog for ourselves.”

“Looking ahead to next week, nothing was set in stone for yesterday, I picked the team going off who needed 90 minutes,” he concluded. “I made the change at half time because I wanted to look at something different in terms of shape, it wasn’t a case of Alfie McCalmint not playing well.

“Unfortunately in the end it just became a case of it being a fitness test and about getting the players through the 90 minutes.

“They’ll all benefit from it, I’m quite sure through the week they’ll feel better for it, and we have to make sure we’re better in terms of the football as well.”

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