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MANAGER: You can't perform like we did

More from Paul Simpson on the Saturday game

26 March 2023

Club News

MANAGER: You can't perform like we did

More from Paul Simpson on the Saturday game

26 March 2023

Manager Paul Simpson had a simple message for his group after the disappointment of the performance at Gillingham on Saturday afternoon – it simply wasn’t to the standard required.

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“I told them it wasn’t good enough, that’s not the team who have performed for 37 games, and not the team who had earned the right to be third in the table,” he said.

“We just haven’t been anywhere near it, it’s as simple as that. We’ve got a fantastic opportunity here, and we don’t want to let it go.

“We knew it was going to be tough because these are the form side of 2023. They’ve had more wins in 2023 at home than they did in 2021 and 2022 put together, and we just haven’t been good enough.

“At this moment in time I can’t give an excuse or a reason. It’s just a horrible way to play for 96 minutes. It’s the worst we’ve played all season in my opinion.

“We’ve had nothing from the start of the game to the end of the game. Credit to Gillingham, they kept going and got their reward right at the end.

“Unfortunately you can’t come to any ground and perform like we did then expect to come away with anything. We absolutely got what we deserved, which was nothing.”

The goal that proved to be the winner from Shaun Williams initially appeared to have been dealt with a good blocking tackle.

“I don’t think we had the situation under control at all,” he insisted. “Not really, not when you’ve got players allowing others to run off them.

“We got a great block in and it looked like we might get lucky, but you could see it coming as the game went on. We tried to change it and put different personnel on to get a different reaction, but we just didn’t do enough.

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“If we’d nicked a draw it would have been nicking it because we just didn’t do enough as a group to win the game.

“We didn’t do anything today, we didn’t win our battles, we didn’t pass the ball properly in any area of the pitch, and we certainty didn’t do anything in the final third other than Kristian Dennis having a shot.

“We just weren’t good enough as a whole group. Maybe I picked the wrong team, maybe the team didn’t perform, but as a group we weren’t good enough.”

The first 45 minutes was a battle for both teams, with not much in the way of quality on show.

“I said at half time to them that I thought it was the poorest we’ve been this season,” he told us. “I was thankful to get in at 0-0. We talked about how we thought we could improve and change it, unfortunately we didn’t.

“Even the goal, there are so many little individual basic things we haven’t done well enough. But maybe it was coming, the pressure they were putting us under, we kept giving too many cheap free-kicks away.

“I don’t think the referee’s interpretation was correct at times, but that’s not the reason we’ve lost, because we have dealt with those free-kicks and throw-ins and whatever else we put in the box, reasonably well.

“It was a second phase after the cross came in, we dealt with the first bit, but didn’t deal with the second bit. Really disappointed with it. I can’t say I’m disappointed with the result, it’s more with the level of performance we’ve shown.” 

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And it’s the type of performance that was the toughest thing to take from the day.

“The result is tough to take obviously, but I think the performance is the bigger disappointment,” he reiterated. “I’m a big believer if you get your performance right your result follows.

“After performing exceptionally well over the first 37 games we’ve let ourselves down. We knew this was going to be a tough game, we both came into it on 27 points since the turn of the year, they now become the form team.

“They didn’t do anything differently to what we expected, unfortunately as a full group we didn’t play well enough - that’s me, the staff and players. We’ve got into this position together.

“Towards the end the amount of really weak free-kicks that were given that allowed them to load the ball in the box.

“The final one we’ve actually defended the first throw-in really well, Callum got a header on it, we then don’t get hold of the ball, then get beaten too easily, then don’t track runners and the ball’s fallen for Williams and he’s smashed it in with a really good finish.

“So many opportunities to do it properly and unfortunately, as in over the whole 96 minutes, we haven’t done it properly. I don’t have an answer to it, players probably don’t because I never for one minute think they go out without the intention of winning, but the level of performance hasn’t reflected a team going to win it today. 

“It wasn’t even just attacking, it was the in-possession stuff, we weren’t good enough on the ball, simple as that. I think of opportunities where we’ve got into crossing positions and hit the first man, I think of opportunities where we’ve got the chance to roll the ball in front of somebody to run onto and we’re putting it out of play, or behind them.

“We’re dumping the ball onto each other instead of taking care of it. Up front I went with a different attacking mix, it just didn’t work. I just expect a bit more from everybody.

“It wasn’t just the attackers, it was everybody, I’d just expect a bit more. I want a bit more. They expect more from each other as well, and on the day it just didn’t happen.”

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