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MANAGER: Looking forward to testing myself

Paul Simpson on managing in League One for the first time

3 June 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Looking forward to testing myself

Paul Simpson on managing in League One for the first time

3 June 2023

The Blues are back in League One for the first time in nine seasons at the beginning of next term and manager Paul Simpson spoke to us this week about has been a fantastic achievement for the club.

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“It’s magnificent, it really is,” he said. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet. I really do know that it is a fantastic achievement because we’re ahead of schedule.

“I had ideas about what I wanted to do at this football club when I came back here in 2022, but the truth of it is that winning at Wembley in that first full season wasn’t part of the things I had in my head.

“I hoped for that somewhere further down the line and, being honest, I thought I’d have to get an extension to my contract to be able to achieve it.

“The players have been magnificent, they really have, and they’ve earned the right to be in League One. We challenged them all season to go and get it on their CVs that they were a promotion team and take that memory away.

“I wanted them to create that history for themselves. They certainly did it and I think if Carlsberg did promotions then to win at Wembley in a penalty shootout, with the icing on the cake that you’ve got a Cumbrian lad scoring the winning penalty as well, wow, what a way to go about it.”

“Being in League One is enormous for everybody connected to the football club,” he added. “We’ve earned the right to do it as well. There hasn’t been any luck involved, there was no luck to finishing fifth after 46 games, there was no luck in the way that we dug in and ground it out in the two play-off semi-finals against Bradford.

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“What happened on Sunday wasn’t luck. I said to the players going into the penalty shootout that it’s a professional skill. It’s not luck, and the players had honed that skill over a two-week period leading up to that game, and they earned the right to go up.

“Whether or not anybody agrees with that, I don’t give a monkeys. I know they earned the right to do it. We’re going into what is a brilliant season to look forward to.

“League One football for the first time in however long it is for us a club, all of the benefits that go with that, so we’ve got a massive challenge to look forward to. The one thing I’m saying is that I don’t want us to go up there and be the kicking block.

“We have to go and hold our own and we have to put a group together that can stay in that league. That has to be the first aim.

“Because of where we were last summer, the first target was 42 points to stay in League Two. We’ve surpassed that and we’ve got ourselves out of the league. Next season we have to make sure we’re still there come the end of it.

“How we do it, whatever we put together, whichever way we play, we have to grind out results. We also need to keep this positive feeling that we’ve got inside the football club, with the fan base, inside the whole city and the county.

“We have to look after that and the best way to do that is to keep winning games. Football changes very quickly but that’s the beauty of it. You’re always trying to take steps forward.

“Even if we’d lost on Sunday, we’d have still been trying to make steps forward. We’ve now got an even bigger step to make, but that’s not a complaint. I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“Because of my decision to leave when we went up last time I’ve never managed in League One. I’ve worked at all the other levels, so I’m looking forward to testing myself in a new environment and I hope everyone else is as well.”

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