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MANAGER: I used to smash 100 balls away

Paul Simpson on being the best you can be

13 October 2023

Club News

MANAGER: I used to smash 100 balls away

Paul Simpson on being the best you can be

13 October 2023

Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy defeat brought a real sense of frustration after a below par performance left the Blues with plenty to ponder.

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“I was going to say I was angry on Tuesday, but I was just massively disappointed,” manager Paul Simpson said. “It sounds like a dad thing to say, but the performance wasn’t acceptable and the players know that.

“They’ve been told that, and now we have to move forward. I’ve had many conversations today [Thursday] talking to individuals about different things. We’ve got to learn from it, and we’ve all got to move forward.

“This is the group we’ve got, we’ve got nobody else to call upon. We need everybody, and everybody has to realise that we all suffer if it’s not right.

“The thing I’ve been talking about over the last few weeks and months, even going as far back as pre-season, is that we only have them at the club during the week for a set period of time, and it’s about what they do for the rest of the time, and how they live their lives and how professional they are about the way they do things.

“That’s what I’ve now questioned the players on - not the ones who started at Bolton last week because that was a brilliant day.

“We’re saying there’s a level, and to be a professional footballer you have to do it. I don’t think people on the outside understand that you do have to make sacrifices.

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“This isn’t me bleating, this is me being really honest, but you do have to make sacrifices. You have to do things that maybe your mates don’t do, that’s what you have to do if you want to be the best professional you can be.

“That’s where we’re now starting to ask questions about again and put it back on the players. They have to come to the party if they want to be involved in it and stay part of the really positive things that I think are going to happen at this football club.

“They’ve got to show they deserve to be here so they’ve got to live their lives properly. I don’t want them to be satisfied with being an impact substitute, let’s be an impact starter and somebody who can affect the game from the first whistle.

“Unfortunately there were too many in the game on Tuesday who didn’t do it. That’s not me taking anything away from Forest, I thought they were excellent, but we have to do our jobs properly.”

“They have to be pushing all the time,” he added. “They probably don’t have to knock on the door, because their opportunity will come, but they have to be ready to take it.

“We can’t afford to go with a group of 11 starters and nobody on the outside who is capable of coming in and being a starter as well. We’re going to get suspensions and injuries, and it’s what comes in that shows the strength of the squad.

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“In the league games I look at our bench and feel quite satisfied with it, but unfortunately when they get an opportunity to start, I’m not seeing them give me that problem. We’ve got to get to a level where they are giving me a problem.”

On how he used to deal with the disappointment of not starting games, he explained: “I really didn’t like it, but you have to find a way. We were in the Premier League with Derby and I didn’t start a single game.

“To get rid of some of the frustration of not being in the starters I would go to a golf driving range on the way home and smash about 100 balls away.

“I didn’t care where they went, I just got it all out so that I knew I was ready to push on again. We had a psychologist called Bill Beswick who used to say that if you’re going to be a sub, be the best sub you can me.

“That used to really annoy me every time I heard it because I didn’t want to be a sub at all. But when you get older you start to understand what he was saying because the message from him was that you had to prepare right.

“You had to be in a good place so that you could be the best version of yourself whenever you were needed. It got to the point where I knew I could go on and affect the game.

“It isn’t easy not being involved and still being positive and proactive, but if you can get the mental bit right you can get out there and still play your part.

“Football is a ruthless game, you have the comfort of a contract for so long, but even then if a player doesn’t start performing we’ll move them on. If I don’t do that, it’s me who gets moved on.

“I just want the club to be successful because, if it is, it means I’ll be successful. That comes back to the players, if they feel they have a right to play then they have to prove it.”

But as he rightly said, that’s done, and the focus now is on Saturday’s visit of Orient.

“It’s been a strange week really because they know the Bolton game has gone, we enjoyed it, but all the focus is on Saturday,” he commented. “It’s another good game we’re preparing for and looking forward to.

“Orient are a club we had two good games against last season and we know it will be tough because they’re a good side.

I talked about momentum from the last-minute equaliser against Peterborough and the momentum of what we all went through last week at Bolton, now we have to do it in front of our home fans again.

“We’ve got to get that feeling again and the spirit, as well as the workmanship and the football we had last weekend, to try and get another result for ourselves.”


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