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Club News

MANAGER: It's a fantastic competition

Paul Simpson on this weekend's trip to Orient

3 November 2023

Club News

MANAGER: It's a fantastic competition

Paul Simpson on this weekend's trip to Orient

3 November 2023

United head to Brisbane Road to kick off their Emirates FA Cup campaign this weekend, and manager Paul Simpson insisted that it’s still a competition that has a unique feel to it for the majority of clubs who take part.

Match Previews


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“I think so,” he agreed. “I’ve said this all along, and I still do believe it, I think it’s a fantastic competition. As an English football supporter, an English player, and now as an English manager, I can only say that I love the FA Cup.

“I really do want us to be involved in it for as long as we can be. We know it’s not an easy draw for us, we know it’s a horrible draw for our supporters because of the distance they have to travel, but I want us to still be in it come Saturday night.

“That’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to be solely focused on this, and make sure we go and do it as well as we possibly can.”

“I don’t think it’s one where you can call the game an occasion, but the FA Cup is different, I will say that,” he added. “If anybody is feeling pressure because of the league situation then this is something different for them.

“We’ve got to approach it in the right way. We know all about Orient, we played them recently, and we’ve just got to make sure that our performances are better.

“Again, having just said that, I don’t think it makes much of a difference that we played them a few weeks ago. Obviously we both have an idea of what each other is about, but it was here last time, so whether they change and do something different at home remains to be seen.

“We know there wants to be a winner, I’m quite sure they won’t want a replay up here on a Tuesday night, and in the ideal circumstances neither do we. That said, I’ll take a replay if it means staying involved in the tie.

“It’s a game we really have to focus on. I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I’ve been disappointed with our lack of consistency and we have to get it sorted out. We’ve got to make sure we get the level of performance right and hopefully, if that happens, we’ve got players who can get the victory.”

On what we can expect to see from our hosts, he told us: “They’re a good football side, they always try to play the right way.

“I think it’s probably fair to say that they’ve gone away from the amount of football they played last season in League Two, they’re not looking to make as many passes as they were last year, but I still think it’ll be a tough game for us.

“They have good individuals, even though they’ve had some injury issues as well, I’m not sure at this point who will be back and available. I don’t know how Richie will approach it, but again it really is about us.

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“We’ve got to set a standard that we can maintain because at the moment we’re going a little bit too up and down. That’s not what we all want, it’s certainly not what I want or what the supporters want.

“We have a week where we’re all thinking we’re going to be fine and everything is looking rosy in the garden, then we let ourselves down with the type of performance we saw at Cambridge. We have to sort that out, we’ve got to do something about it.

“I know there’s a determination to do it, but what we need to do is see it in the games and out on the pitches when we get that opportunity.”

As everyone knows, it’s a competition that can get very exciting come the New Year if you stay in it.

“I think at the moment in this football club we’ve got a lot of excitement going on,” he commented. “There’s a little buzz going on because of the noises that are being made, but unfortunately the performances aren’t reaching that same buzz level.

“We have to get there. If we can stay involved there’s the finances that come with an FA Cup run, but there’s also the confidence that you can gain from getting victories.

“It’s a brilliant competition to be involved in. I’m not sitting here and thinking that Carlisle United are going to go and win the FA Cup, but why shouldn’t we be dreaming of getting into the second round.

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“Why shouldn’t we be looking at the first weekend in January and trying to get a nice big plum tie that’s got potential to make us a lot of money. That’s what we need. It all starts by winning in the first round, so that’s what we’ve got to do.

“Look, you don’t have the pressure of three points being at stake but it’s a must-win game. I was actually thinking about the scenario of last weekend when Tomas Holy’s asking can he go up for the corner at the end.

“I don’t want him going up for corners. Yes, it’s 1-0 down but you have to think a little bit more long-term. You saw at Bolton what happens when goalkeepers go up. You can easily be 2-0 down. I didn’t want that.

“This weekend because we have to stay in the competition, I probably would let Tomas Holy go up for a set play. People might think what does it matter if it’s a 2-0 defeat or 1-0 defeat in a league game, well it does matter, because on Tuesday night if Derby County had scored one more goal against Northampton we’d have gone up a place.

“I think it does matter. Those are those small, fine margins I have to think about.”

And Brisbane Road, of course, is where this second spell at the club started for the manager 20 months ago.

“After that win I think we’ve had three defeats to them, so I want that to change,” he said. “I think it’s our turn to go and do it properly.

“We can’t expect Orient to do us any favours, they didn’t do us any favours when we won that first game of my second time round, so we have to go and do it properly. Let’s make sure we do it right and, if we do that, we can take whatever comes.

“I still remember that first game, and coming out to those fans on the far side. I do remember it. I think in football you do remember those good things.

“I just want that feeling at the end again - that feeling of winning, of smiling, being able to be positive, to take that feeling into the next league game. That’s the only thing I’m concerned with.”

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