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MANAGER: We lacked quality in the final third

Paul Simpson on the Bristol Rovers game

12 November 2023


MANAGER: We lacked quality in the final third

Paul Simpson on the Bristol Rovers game

12 November 2023

United enjoyed the majority of possession and territory against Bristol Rovers but manager Paul Simpson was left to reflect on a recurring frustration when he offered his match reaction shortly after the full-time whistle.

"The disappointing thing is it's the same thing I'm going to talk about - we've lacked that quality in the final third and that real desire to go and score goals," he said.

"I asked Jacob the analyst and from his early assessment we've had 23 crosses go in, 10 corners, six free-kicks and five long throw-ins - whatever that totals, there's a lot of balls we haven't put in the box and we haven't got on the end of it. 

"We haven't won the first contact enough times and we haven't had the desire to get on the end of things. That's what we have to change. 

"We have to get back to players having desire and an expectation that they're going to score rather than sitting and waiting for things to happen because at the moment it isn't happening with what we're doing, so we need to change to be something different."

"The results at the moment are showing we’re not good enough at this moment in time," he continued. 

"I still think the players we’ve got are better than the results are showing. I hope I’m not being deluded in thinking that but I do actually believe it. 

"We have worked this week on crossing, finishing, getting players in the final third, dealing with all those sorts of things. And we’ve done it but it hasn’t come out on the pitch today. 

"It’s a huge disappointment when you do have a week where you’re working on that type of thing and don’t see the rewards come on Saturday."

The Blues enjoyed a numerical advantage for the final stages of the game after Tristan Crama was dismissed for bringing down substitute Terry Ablade as he bore down on goal.

But there were no clear-cut chances following the red card despite United showing some clear attacking endeavour.

"We didn't create that clear-cut chance but again, you need to have that desire to go and get on the end of things to create those chances," admitted the Blues' manager.

"We got into the final third and Terry got himself in there and the lad has brought him down and had to go off for it. We've had free-kicks, corners, but again - we've got balls into the box but we haven't been able to get on the end of it. 

"You don't need me to tell anybody that if you don't have that desire and you don't get in the box, you're going to struggle to score goals. That's exactly what's happening with us at the moment."

Last season's successful campaign was built on a foundation of hard work and, while Simpson was pleased with the work rate of his side on Saturday afternoon, the challenge is now to double down on that in the hunt for results.

"I can certainly take positives out of the way the players have worked, and the ways they’ve stuck at it, and dealt with the disappointment of a horrible goal to concede," he said.

"I think there’s positives in the way that the back four defended, barring that opportunity that they score from. 

"I think there’s positives about the way Dylan McGeouch played, the way Luke Plange caused problems, we can be positive about that, he showed some real positive stuff. 

"But we’re not getting the luck and the way I look at it is we’re going to have to work even harder to try and earn some luck."

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