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Interviews

MANAGER: It will be nice to have a home game

Paul Simpson on the Bristol Rovers game

10 November 2023

Interviews

MANAGER: It will be nice to have a home game

Paul Simpson on the Bristol Rovers game

10 November 2023

Manager Paul Simpson spoke to us ahead of the home game against Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

“They’re a good side,” he said. “I’ve got to say, I was a little bit surprised when Joey Barton got sacked and I don’t really know the full ins and outs of it. Andy Mangan has taken over for now and he seems to have steadied the ship a little bit.

“They’ve got a really good group of players with a good mix of youngsters and some experience. It’s going to be a tough game and it’s going to be hard to prepare because Andy has changed it in every single game so far.

“They’re coming into it on the back of a decent result at Reading during the week. They’ve had some wins but they’ve also had some losses, so it’s a game where we’ve really got to focus on what we want to do.

“I think they’ve had a few injuries and they’ve got a suspension for this weekend as well. We’ve got an idea of the shape they’ll play, but we’re not sure of the personnel. Whatever we’ve done in 16 and whatever they’ve done in 15, we’ve got to make sure this weekend we are right at it in terms of our performance.

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“The truth of it is we need results, we need to get wins. I expect us to be doing better than we are with the group of players we’ve got. I expect us to be pushing towards the middle of the table with a view that we can then go and strengthen it as we go towards January and then start pushing even further on the table.

“We know we’ve not been consistent in how we go about things, there was a lot of discussion in the changing room after last week’s game and there’s been discussions this week in our training days. We now want to see what we’re capable of. We have to start changing our expectation levels, we’ve had a good look at what the league is and I think we have the ability to be doing better than we are. We’ve got to make sure we rise to that challenge now.”

Experienced striker Chris Martin is a player the gaffer is very familiar with: “I worked with him at Derby, then I recommended we signed him at Bristol City as well,” he explained. “At Derby County he was absolutely outstanding. We missed out on getting in the play-offs in our first full season there, and I think the main reason of that was we lost Chris Martin to an injury we could never get him fit again from, in fact it took him a hell of a lot longer than anybody expected him to get fit.

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“He’s a quality striker, he’s a target man, he’s clever in the way he wins fouls. We know if he plays this weekend we’ve got to be alive when anything comes in that 18 yard box, because he will be on the end of it and we’ve got to make sure we nullify any threat he’s got.”

After three Saturday away trips to Portsmouth, Cambridge and Leyton Orient, the team are looking forward to a return to Brunton Park on Saturday.

“We’ve had to clock up some miles in the past few weeks so it will be nice to have a home game,” he admitted. “The fans have been absolutely magnificent in the way they’ve came and backed us on these long journeys. It will be nice to have the home comforts of our own ground and our own support. We have to make sure we make them count and get the performance right.  

“We’ve had some good atmospheres inside Brunton Park recently and I hope Saturday will be no different. I expect the fans to turn up again, I know we’re having a tough time results wise but it’s still very early in our League One season and in our development. Without going into too much detail on the takeover, there’s more and more positive things going on and we’re trying to build that positivity to take the club forward. Hopefully this weekend we can take it forward with a really big result.

“It’s good to know that we’re not going to be doing the six or seven hours of travelling. The thing is, we have to make sure we do it properly at home, we can’t go taking it for granted that we’re at home and everything will go right for us. We have to earn the right to get a result this week. If we can do that the league table will certainly look a bit more pleasant and it will give us a bit of a springboard to move forward.”


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