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MANAGER: Always a tough place to go

Paul Simpson ahead of the Gillingham game

24 March 2023

Club News

MANAGER: Always a tough place to go

Paul Simpson ahead of the Gillingham game

24 March 2023

United face the trip into Kent this weekend with the Gills having seen a significant upturn in form and fortunes since the turn of the year.


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Speaking first about the length of the journey, manager Paul Simpson said: “There’s nothing you can do about it.

“When you’re a kid and somebody told you that you were going to London for the day you’d be jumping though the roof with excitement. So, we’re heading south for the day and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’ll be a really good day out, we’ve got to enjoy it, and we have to have it in our minds that we’re going there to work. We need to make sure we’ve prepared properly and that we pick a team that has energy, and a desire to defend and add quality going forward.”

“It’s a completely different side to the one we faced earlier in the season, and they were a good team the last time we played them anyway,” he added. “Neil made ten signings in January, I think it was, so there’s been a big turnaround in players.

“They’re picking up results even though they’re probably still not quite out of trouble yet. They’re getting very close to having that dealt with, so we know we’re facing a tough game.

“I always find it a tough place to go anyway, and that’s not the journey, it’s the team you come up against. Even when I was at Derby and you’re having to make that much shorter trip, it was still difficult.

“We have to be right, we have to be absolutely spot on and respect them, as we do every opponent. If we do our jobs it gives us a better chance of coming out on top.”


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And the hosts head into the fixture with a good Tuesday win under their belts.

“They had a good result at home so they will be confident,” he agreed. “We’ve had a lot of good results and the challenge for us is to keep it going.

“We’ve given ourselves a great opportunity, there’s a real belief in there without it stretching over to arrogance. Hopefully that belief will come out.

“We’re in a good run of form and you don’t hold at third in the table if you’re not in a good run. It’s been an ok week so far, with the two points we’ve picked up, and if you go a little bit further back to nicking a last-minute winner at Swindon, that gave everybody a lift.

“We’ve picked up some good points and what we need to do is get back to winning ways, hopefully this weekend, and that will help to give us the next push as we look to keep going on.”

And, importantly, the players have shown that they’re handling the mental and psychological aspects of the run-in in good order.

“I think you see every day with the way they are that they’re handling it,” he said. “Their behaviour around the place and the training ground tells me there’s a confidence about them, but there’s also a determination to make sure that they keep going.

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“That’s what they want, they don’t want it go out with a whimper, they’ve got to go full throttle. Whatever happens, we have to make sure we either go up kicking and screaming or we lose out kicking and screaming.

“We simply have to give it everything we’ve got, and the belief is that we’ve got enough. We’ll see if the proof is in the pudding come the end of the season.

“And the main thing is that we concentrate on ourselves. That’s how it has to be. We’re in that position where we will be ok if we do our jobs. That’s the only thing that we can focus on.

“Ye,  when you come in after full-time, the players are on their phones to see what other results have gone through, and that’s how I find out about what’s going on.

“I’ll be honest, the only results I look for are if my Joe is on a game as an assistant I look quickly to see if there’s been any scandal, and when Jake is involved with Stockport I look for how they’ve done, and I obviously can’t look to see how Dominic has performed at the theatre, but I look for my own to start with.

“After that I pick up little bits off everybody else, but we have to just do our jobs right. Let’s make sure we do our bit properly because, with nine games to go, if we do the same as we have through this batch of games we’ve had, we will be ok.”

Sales ahead of the weekend had the Blue Army at close to 400, with more expected to bolster that to closer to the 500 mark.

“Everywhere we go we’re getting huge numbers, and it’s fantastic to see,” he said. “I know somebody showed me a league table of away supporters and I’m quite sure that if it was done as miles-per-person we would be absolutely streets ahead.

“They’re doing their bit and we’ve got to make sure we keep doing ours.”

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