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MANAGER: We really have to embrace it

Paul Simpson on dealing with the nerves

7 March 2023

Standards have been set at a high bar from the moment the squad got back together and it’s no different now, even with the team having just taken their current run to three wins on the bounce.

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Although clearly pleased, manager Paul Simpson insisted that it can’t stop there, particularly at this crucial stage of the season.

“Three is good, but we’ve now got to make it four,” he said. “If we want to achieve anything we’ve got to have a really solid run now.

“There are 12 games to go and I want a minimum of four more clean sheets out of them. In the ideal world I want six, so we need to keep ourselves going, keep chalking these games off and keep doing them properly.

“It doesn’t matter whether we need a battling performance, a football performance, a mix of the two, a lucky performance, it doesn’t matter to me. We’ve earned the right to be where we are, and we’ve got to make sure we keep pushing ourselves on.”

“There are going to be many twists and turns for us all,” he continued. “We’ve just got to make sure that we’re the ones getting the positive results.

“We have a really tough run of games coming, starting with next weekend at Swindon. We know it’s going to be difficult, they’re a good side, they got a point against Orient, but it’s one we’re looking forward to. And, like I say, the next challenge is to make it four on the bounce.

“It won’t be easy, as we saw against Grimsby. You have to grind them games out and you’ve got to get results however you can sometimes.

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“There’ll be more of them between now and the end of the season. In the ideal world I would like them all to be with really free-flowing performances and emphatic wins, but 2-0 at home is a big win. When you look at other results that are going on, you see it was a good one for us.

“It’s still all very tight, so we all can do is keep going. We have a plan that you work to and that we stick to. That’s the same during the week, and in the way we travel and what we do on a match day.

“We’ll just keep doing it. I’m not saying it’s a miracle plan, and we might not always get the results, but we’ll stick to it. We don’t get carried away when we’re winning and we don’t get too down when we’re losing, we just keep ticking them off.

“At the start of the season 12 to go seems a hell of a long way off, but we’re there now. We talked about being in a good position with 10 to go, and we’re certainly managing to get that for ourselves.

“We have to really embrace it. That’s everybody. I’m enjoying it, I really am, and I do get that there’s a nervousness through games.

“Listen, when I got that call last February I didn’t know if I would be sitting as the manager anyway, but I certainly didn’t expect to be in second place at this stage. We’ve got to make sure we enjoy it and stay there.”


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But there’s an understanding that there will be nerves as we head into this final segment of the campaign.

“I can’t criticise the fans because the numbers that were getting are absolutely magnificent,” he commented. “We’ve had over 6,000 fans here, but I did just feel that there’s a nervousness about it.

“It’s as though it was quiet, and we really need them to get behind us. I know we have to do our bit to help to get the crowd up and get them supporting us. We’ve got to make sure we keep winning games of football to keep them going, but let’s be honest, last summer, and certainly last February, nobody expected us to be in a position like this, sat second in the table with 34 games gone.

“We’re in a really good position, so now we all have to stick together and keep pushing each other on. Who knows where it might take us.

“So let’s enjoy the nerves because of where we are. They are coming in their numbers, but I’d really like them to make a bit more noise and really back us and give the players something to go off.

“I get that there’s a nervous edge about it but, let’s be honest, they probably didn’t expect us to be here. We were third in the table before kick-off, we’re second after it, and we’ve got to enjoy this.

“If we can’t enjoy being in these positions, we’ve got problems. All I can ask them is that they keep coming and let’s be a bit noisier. Let’s back the players as much as we can.”

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