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Club News

MANAGER: A good game to look forward to

Paul Simpson ahead of the weekend Orient game

31 March 2023

Club News

MANAGER: A good game to look forward to

Paul Simpson ahead of the weekend Orient game

31 March 2023

This weekend’s League Two fixture quirk is the fact that the top six will be playing each other, with the obvious changes to the balance of things at the top of the pile that will bring when all three full time whistles have blown.

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“What you can guarantee is that they can’t all win, that’s the one thing we can say,” manager Paul Simpson said. “I go back to it, and it does sound like I’m a broken record, but we have to do our own job properly.

“We haven’t done that over the last few games, we took a defeat at Gillingham, and that wasn’t what we planned to do. We have to do our jobs and, as we know, if we do that, we’ll still find ourselves sitting in a good position.

“If we don’t, we run the risk of other teams catching us and, again, that’s something we’ve got to deal with.”

For the Blues, they face this season’s outstanding performers so far - Leyton Orient.

“They’re a side that has set an incredible standard over the season,” he agreed. “Again, because they’ve drawn four games people can start to say negative stuff about them, but to be sat where they are now, it’s a brilliant position to be in.

“I’ve been there before, I know what it’s like when you get to the end of the season and you know you need just a couple more wins to do it. You start to get a little bit nervy, and maybe that’s what’s happening to them now.

“I watched the Hartlepool game and it’s fair to say they should have been out of sight, but they also could have lost it.

“This is a great game for us, it’s one that you don’t need to get any sort of motivational tools out, you’d like to think that everybody will want to be involved anyway.

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“I know the players do, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to meeting Richie [Wellens] again because he’s a guy who I played with at Blackpool, and I’ve come across him since a few times.

“It's a really good game to look forward to. We know we’ve got to be right and, if we are, we think we’ve got enough to cause them problems.

“Richie is one who knows this level and he’s got a good group of players there. They’ve had a few injuries of late, which has probably disrupted them a little bit, but he’s certainly had a fairly consistent team shape and he’s been consistent with his selections over the season.

“We’ve struggled with that, but hopefully between now and the end of the season we’ll get a bit more luck on that side of things, and we can be consistent with our selection as well. Hopefully we can get some good positive results to go with it all.”

United’s initial fan allocation of 900 sold out on Wednesday morning and, with 350 to be made available on the day, it means the Blue Army will once again tip through the one thousand mark.

“It’s just incredible,” he said. “Credit to them, and I know the Tranmere ticket offer has gone really well as well. Let’s hope we can do this weekend right in front of a brilliant support again.

“I can still remember coming out of the tunnel for my first game last season down there and the surprise at seeing how many fans we had with us that day.

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“It’s snowballing all the time, it’s getting bigger and better. We’ve got to make sure we put on a performance that makes it a good day for everybody.

“The fans are definitely going to play a part. We’re also fully aware that we have to play a part, in fact a major part in it. We’ve got to do our bit.

“We didn’t at Gillingham and we had great support down there as well, but we didn’t do our side of it. We’ve got to perform, and that’s the minimum requirement.

“I don’t bet, so I don’t understand about bookies and I don’t listen to what they say. They won’t be affecting our game on Saturday. We have to go and put a performance on against the team everybody has been chasing all season.

“Their record of 27 out of the first 30 points of the season is incredible to do. We’ve chased them all season, so we go there looking forward to it.

“I definitely don’t see it as a free hit because we’re expected to lose, it’s just another tough game that we want to win. As the team that’s fourth in the table we have to do enough to be the team that comes out on top.

“And it’s games like this that you want to be involved with when you’re in this position in the table. It’s wonderful. It’s where you want to be.

“It’s certainly what I would have wished for back in June, didn’t expect, but we’re here now. We’ve got to make sure we finish it off, there’s no point in resting on our laurels. We want to make it a really good end to the season.

“It can be a brilliant summer, it can be a massive bonus for the football club to get ourselves up there, and hopefully we’ve given ourselves a fighting chance and we can go and see the job through.

“I’ve said this before, this isn’t pressure. I’ve had surgery and I’ve had surgeons who work under pressure. I’ve been a father with my kids ill, that’s a difficult thing to deal with.

“There’s pressure and there’s pressure - this is just football. This is a brilliant thing to be involved in, a fantastic life as a professional footballer or football person, as I am now, so you have to embrace it.

“If you don’t, you shouldn’t really be in it. You’ve got to look forward to going out to play for 90-odd minutes against a group of players who have done really well this year. They’ll be trying to stop us, and we’ve got to do our best to stop them and try to be the team that comes out on top.”


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