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Club News

MANAGER: It's another proper work day

Paul Simpson ahead of the Sutton game

7 May 2023

Club News

MANAGER: It's another proper work day

Paul Simpson ahead of the Sutton game

7 May 2023

Manager Paul Simpson is refusing to take anything for granted when it comes to the play-offs ahead of what he expects will be a tough game against a Sutton United who will be looking to finish their season off with a home win.

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“It’s not cut and dried, Monday is a proper work day and every day this week has been the same,” he said. “Because of the longer gap between Salford and Sutton, they’ve had an extra day of rest.

“We had the player awards last Sunday which was fantastically organised and ran really well. We were then back to work on Monday morning and preparation has gone well all week.

“We’re now looking forward to it, we just want to get playing and make sure we perform properly. If we do perform properly, it’s the start of us preparing for play-off games.

“If we don’t and if results go against us, then the truth of it we don’t deserve to be in the play-offs. That’s the only way we can look at it. It’s been a good season so far and now we have the opportunity to make it a brilliant season.”

The midweek result at Crewe was another example of how the unexpected can become reality, with a goal on 101 minutes changing the complexion dramatically for the Bantams ahead of their final fixture.

“It was a crazy game during the week,” he agreed. “Bradford have been on a hell of a roll recently and when it got back to 2-2 I thought, here we go. I was watching one of the National League play-off games and I saw the timings, then saw there was nine minutes added time.

“Then I looked again and saw it was a 90+11 penalty goal. That’s what I love about English football, every single team, regardless of whether they’ve got something to play for, does it properly.

“That’s the beauty of English football and that’s why I think on Monday we know we’re in for a tough game. I think Matt Grey has done a brilliant job with Sutton, he got them into the league then secured their safety in the first year.

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“They’ve been up at the top end of the table for the majority of the season, but fallen away a little bit over the past few weeks for whatever reason. We know it’s going to be tough, they’ll want to finish it properly in front of their home fans, and we want to get a result in game 46 to make sure we carry on.

“I don’t think they’ll have their flip flops on, they’ll be wanting to finish on a high. We know we’re going to have to be at it and make sure we’re right. We’re up in these top places because we’ve done things properly over the majority of the season.

“We know Northampton or Stockport will get that last automatic place, but we know there are four others who are fighting for three places, so we have to do everything we possibly can to make sure we get one of those.”

“But I haven’t even thought about the play-offs, I’m just thinking about Sutton,” he continued. “We have to take care of Sutton. I have a schedule in place which takes us up to Monday, there’s nothing else in it after that in May.

“When I’m on the coach on the way back and I’ve enjoyed the result, I’ll get my head around what we’re going to do for the rest of the week. We can’t think about the play-offs yet.

“Northampton last year were probably thinking about automatic promotion on the last day then they got their pants pulled down, so we can’t be in that position. We have to just focus on Sutton and make sure we do that properly, then I’ll really enjoy setting up the schedule for the next two weeks.

“To be in the play-offs you have to earn it over 46 games and we haven’t done that yet. If we’re in them I’ll talk about them until I’m blue in the face, right now it’s about Sutton and making sure we do it properly against a team who will be like a wounded animal.”

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And things are so tight at the top that there are a host of possible outcomes.

“The only permutation I’m looking at is us winning and finishing fifth in the table,” he said. “If we do that, we’ve done our job and the rest will take care of itself. If we finish fifth, we’ll find out after the game who’s finished sixth and that will decide who and where we’re playing, and that’s all we can do.

“There’s no point worrying about anybody else. I can imagine if we’ve been really poor and two or three goals down there’ll be a bit of a desperate look to try and find out what’s going on at Mansfield, but I really hope that’s not the situation, I want to make sure we do our job properly and the rest will just fall into place.”

So what can we expect from Monday’s hosts? 

“They’re a big side,” he commented. “They’re quite direct up to the forward players. They’re very, very good on set plays, whether that be free-kicks around the 18-yard-box, corners, long throw-ins, both full-backs have got a long throw-in.

“It’s going to have to be tin hats on, defend it and do our job properly. I think we’ve got players who can cause problems to them in our forward areas and that’s what we’ve got to do.

“I think they’ve had two really good seasons, the manager’s done a tremendous job, they will do everything to try and make sure they don’t finish with seven defeats, but we’ve got to make sure they do finish with seven defeats.

“There can be absolutely no sympathy, no feeling sorry. It’s about us, we have to go and do our job properly and I really do think if we go about it in the right way, we’ve got enough to come away with a victory. 

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“We should have incredible fire in our bellies to want to go and achieve something really special and create our own bit of history for the football club. If we do it in spite of everything that’s gone on, what an even better feeling that would be.”

And, should they be selected, Toma Holy and Jack Armer will be two players who will have started every league fixture – a fantastic achievement.

“Absolutely brilliant,” the gaffer said. “It’s not a common thing now to go through a full 46-league games being involved in it. It’s a tremendous achievement if they are both selected.

“You’d probably look at it and think they are going to be involved because they’ve done the job so far, they’ve shown the level of consistency.

“I thought Tomas had a dodgy patch but he’s come through it now. Jack’s had a little quiet period but over the season he’s been very consistent.

“A real pleasant surprise, I’ve got to say, because I wasn’t massively sure after last season, but I think he’s done really well, he’s deserved to stay in the side.

“Credit to them, that they’ve been able to stay fit because it seems as though every single player we’ve had in this squad has picked up something over the season for one reason and another.

“Maybe it’s luck, maybe good judgement on their part, but massive achievement to get 46 league games in a season.”


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