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MANAGER: It's been good, and now we want to round it off

Paul Simpson ahead of the Sunday game

27 May 2023

Your average football season is often described as a slog, with just over 10 months of fixtures across a range of competitions to be catered for, and when the play-off campaign is added to that it becomes a real distance event, with the mental side of that to be dealt with as much as the physical.

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“When you think back, 22 June was our first day of pre-season, so we’re talking about 11 months of work here,” he said.

“In my days as a player I remember getting eight weeks of solid rest and not having to do anything, but the players might get four weeks this time.

“It’s a long old slog, but that isn’t a complaint because we’re all really lucky people to be involved in professional football.

“This has been a really good season, now we want to go and make it a fantastic season so we can go and really enjoy everything.”

“But we know Stockport will be thinking exactly the same, they’ve been gearing up to be successful as a team and a club for years with the investment they’ve had from their new owner.

“They expected to be promoted at the start of the season so there is an expectancy there that wasn’t with us, but now that we’re there as well we expect to win.

“We’ll do everything we possibly can to win, and the challenge is who can deal with the game better.”

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“We know we went through two really tough semi-final games,” he continued. “I’ve watched Stockport’s games and they had two really tough games, so I think it’s set up to be a really good game of football.

“I hope it’s as good an advert for League Two football as our two games against Bradford were. I hope there’s the same level of mutual respect that went between Bradford and us. That’s the supporters, the players and the staff.

“Mark Hughes and Glynn Hodges were superb after the game, and I’m sure this will be another one where there’ll be a lot of mutual respect.”

And everyone knows what the end-game means for the winner.

“I’m sure League One is a lovely league to be involved in, but I haven’t looked at it,” he told us. “I’m not looking that far ahead, my focus is on Sunday and making sure we’re ready to go and perform.

“If we do perform and we deserve it then we’ll be in League One and I’ll look at the league table then to see who we’ll be up against.

“Otherwise, it’s prepare for League Two if it’s not the right performance from us. That’s why the last thing I’ll say to the players will be the same as I say for every other game - go and enjoy yourself.

“I’ve learned that in football, you have to enjoy it. There will be a message about finding a way to win, but it’s about enjoying yourself and savouring every moment of the occasion.

“Let’s face it, you enjoy things much more when you win.”

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