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MANAGER: They all want the chance to be involved

An injury update from the manager, and his thoughts on the play-off system

13 May 2023

Club News

MANAGER: They all want the chance to be involved

An injury update from the manager, and his thoughts on the play-off system

13 May 2023

Saturday’s training gallery on the official website was as notable for the visibility of the players who have returned to full fitness involved as it was for the sunshine that bathed the training pitch, and manager Paul Simpson confirmed that the prospect of an appearance under the now famous arch is providing an incentive for every member of the squad.

Match Previews

PREVIEW: Bradford

12 May 2023

“We’ve had our focus on Sunday night, but I’ll be honest with you, what I’ve been saying to the players is that Wembley is what you have to look at as your end goal,” he admitted.

“Although Sunday is really important, as is next Saturday, you also have to reach for the stars. You have to look at what you can achieve. We know if we do it right over two games we have a brilliant experience to look forward to.

“It’s given a spur on for people like Morgan Feeney, Fin Back, Jon Mellish – he’s obviously suspended, but he’s still training properly. Morgan is out there running and Fin is doing his rehab back at Forest.

“Tobi Sho-Silva and Brennan Dickenson are back in full training because they all want to have an opportunity to be involved if we get through these next two game.

“They know the lads who are fit and available can get us there, and that’s why there’s a determination and real willingness to push each other and drive each other. Who knows, if we’re good enough we’ll go there, if we aren’t good enough our season will end next Saturday.

“Although we’ll still have to look back and think it’s been a good season overall, it won’t have been a brilliant one, which is what we want.”

Club News

GALLERY: Weekend training with the lads

13 May 2023

On how close the players mentioned are to being considered, he told us: “They’re getting closer, certainly Tobi and Brennan. They’ve trained for another week with us now so they’re getting training minutes into their legs and in their heads more than anything.

“That’s an important part of it. They need to feel comfortable in their own minds that they’re fully fit and ready to go. We’ll wait and see whether they’ve done enough to be involved at Bradford, or whether they need another week to be involved in the home tie.

“Everyone else has trained all week, we had no issues from last weekend. Everybody’s fit, raring to go, and hopefully we’ll be able to go and show that come Sunday evening.”

And, whoever is picked, the fifth spot finish has to be something that will bring confidence to the whole group.

“The league table tells you everything,” the manager agreed. “It’s fifth versus sixth, two teams with a really good record, and it’s all to play for.

“You have to relish it, enjoy it and perform. When you go through your career, you have many seasons where we’d have been on holiday by now. That’s not what you want.

“You want to be involved, and if we have to take it 28 May, what a brilliant thing to look forward to. That’s why we have to make sure we do it right on Sunday, and then we can look at the second leg. Hopefully we’ll have done it properly and we can prepare for what comes next.”

Interviews

INTERVIEW: We're definitely confident

12 May 2023

The format and reasoning behind the play-off system has always been a discussion point, so we wondered what United’s boss made of a system that effectively boils down to a good old fashioned knock out.

“It’s like a completely different competition now,” he told us. “With my old school football head on, I’m not overkeen on play-offs because I think if you’re in a promotion place at the end of the season then you’ve been consistent enough over 46 games to be promoted.

“I know that sounds daft, because we wouldn’t have been promoted that way with finishing fifth, but over 46 games we didn’t deserve to be because we didn’t finish in the top places. Now, we’ve got a great second chance and I think it’s absolutely brilliant for supporters.

“It’s wonderful to be involved in, but what I would say is the only way to come out of the other side of the play-offs is to have won it. You get nothing for second, third or fourth place, it’s only for finishing first, so our challenge is to try and finish first.

“And I have to say that it’s the best way to get promoted. I’ve gone up automatically with Derby and Man City, I’ve been involved in a play-off final with Blackpool, and one with Carlisle, but I’ve also finished champions with Carlisle, so, listen, if somebody could guarantee me now that we were going to win at Wembley, I would take that over being champions of the league.

“I’m really looking forward to trying to get an opportunity to go out at Wembley with my home team, but I only want to do that if we’re going to win. That’s the top and bottom of it.

“It is strange because we’re in the league but it’s different, and it is brilliant, fantastic for us to be involved. We’ve had a really good week of preparation.

“It’s been a good layout for it this season in the fact that you’ve got a little bit of time to prepare for it. We’ve also got a little bit of time to review the first game, once that’s been played, before we prepare for the second one.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us and we’ve just got to go and make sure we give it our best shot.”


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