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Club News

MANAGER: We know what we're aiming for

Paul Simpson on tomorrow's game

19 May 2023

Club News

MANAGER: We know what we're aiming for

Paul Simpson on tomorrow's game

19 May 2023

It’s that big game feeling again this weekend as Bradford City bring their play-off semi-final one-goal advantage to Brunton Park, and with it all to play for a final Wembley the target that both clubs are aiming for.

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And manager Paul Simpson confirmed that, as for last weekend, the preparations will follow the same pattern as they have throughout the season, despite the added levels of interest.

“I know it’s a boring answer but we prepare in the same way we’ve prepared for every game,” he said. “We’re totally focused on this one game, we know where we can go if we’re successful and what an opportunity we have, but it’s about this one game.

“We’ll prepare, we’ve done bits of work this week about what could come in the game, and we’ll just have to wait and see how we cope with it and which team gets selected.

“Everybody is in with a shout of being involved, so hopefully we’re able to cope on the day as well as we did during the second half on Sunday.”

“Games like this don’t need a build up,” he continued. “If you want to be involved in high level sport then these are the games you want to be involved in.

“If it isn’t a sell out it will be very close to it, just like it was at Bradford. There were two sets of supporters who created a brilliant atmosphere last week, now we need them to do the same on Saturday.

“We need the two teams to go and put on another good advert for League Two football, and hopefully they’re all going to be up for it because this is where everybody wants to be involved.

“The ultimate incentive when you’re involved in the play-offs is promotion. That’s what we’re aiming for.

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“At the start of the season before we played Crawley everybody had the intentions of being promoted. Whether they’re realistic or not, everybody in this league starts off with that dream.

“We’re at a point where we could be two games away from it. At the start of the season we were 46 or 49 games away, but now we have the opportunity for it to be two games away.

“It’s a case of giving everything we’ve got. If we give 100% and do the things we’re capable of we think we can cause problems for Bradford, but there isn’t any point thinking about it, we have to go and show it in what will be a fantastic occasion on Saturday.”

But being a goal behind, is there a temptation to go all guns blazing from the first whistle?

“That comes down to game management and, as we sit here today, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the game,” he said. “We can have the best laid plans in the world, and Bradford can do the same, but neither of us know how it’s going to go.

“I think it’s about players and how they cope with the emotion of the day and the mental side of it. If they’re able to cope with that then that’s when they’re able to go and execute their skill and technical abilities.

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“For example, we haven’t spoken about what happens if they get the first goal on the day. I haven’t spoken about anything like that, there’s been nothing negative this week.

“We’re preparing for a game in the way we would always prepare. I’ll go through the ‘what if’ scenarios in my head and I’ll have an idea about what changes can be made to affect that, but my planning is about us starting the game well and us getting the first goal.

“We’ll try to prepare for every eventuality, there’s no negative thoughts coming into this game. It’s positive and we’re ready to play.

“The training sessions have been done, penalties have been practiced, we’ve done as much as we can. It’s down to what happens when we cross that white line now.”

“What we can see right now is that the players are all up for it,” he concluded. “We can only select 18 even though there are more than 18 available.

“It’s up to the 11 starters to give us a base then the lads who get called upon from the bench have to come on and make an impact, like the boys did last weekend.

“We want even more of an impact, I want more from the starters then a bigger impact from the finishers. If that’s the case then I’m quite sure we’ll all be smiling come the end of the game.

“I want Saturday to come round because it’s a great game to look forward to. This is why I wanted to get back into management, to try and have a chance to be involved in games like this.

“I know I get stressed on the touchline during the game and I know I’m getting more grey hairs, and I know I said something I probably shouldn’t have done at the end of the game on Sunday.

“It’s just because I want to be involved in this side of it. I loved working at the FA and I loved being an assistant, but when you’re the manager and you’ve got the whole weight of expectation on your shoulders, that’s a challenge I’m relishing, and I’m really looking forward to Saturday.”

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