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MANAGER: We can't start games like that

More from Paul Simpson on the Orient game

15 October 2023

Club News

MANAGER: We can't start games like that

More from Paul Simpson on the Orient game

15 October 2023

United boss Paul Simpson gave us his reaction to the narrow home defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient shortly after full-time on Saturday afternoon.

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“I think the big lesson you learn from it is that you can’t start games like we did today,” he told us. “We can’t go into any game in any league starting like we did in the first half, and that’s the big disappointment.

“Second half we had a go and we were more positive in our passing and our running. We showed more energy and unfortunately all of those were seriously lacking in the first 45 minutes.

“Yes, we kept the ball, but we kept it in rubbish areas and that’s not what I want from our team. We’ve gone from such a level last week at Bolton where we earned a big result, and we’ve had an opportunity today to go and repeat that in front of our supporters and we’ve let ourselves down with the way we were in the first half today.”

Although the O’s had the better of the first 45 minutes, it never really felt like an away goal was on the cards.

“No, I thought they were better than us,” he responded. “They got onto second balls better than us and passed it with more of a purpose than we did.

“There was no spark to us. You need an aggressive way to play, an aggressive way when you’re out of possession to press. I think they probably won nearly every second ball in the first half, balls are bouncing, they picked them up, we didn’t get on the end of it.

“I was happier with the second half but I just don’t think you can start any game like we did and then expect to suddenly flick a switch and change it around and come out on top. 

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“And it’s a horrible goal to give away, a really poor goal, I think we’ve gifted them it. I thought the second half was much better but that’s the way we have to go about it from the start.

“You can’t wait until words get said at half time, you’ve got to start every game right and not start when you’re a goal down.

“Like I say, it’s a rubbish goal. I thought Sam had got himself into a decent position, I don’t know why Tomas is out there and, when he is out there, I don’t know why he doesn’t just clear everything.

“Even after that, when the ball is rolling in I think there can be an enthusiasm to go and try and stop it by other players, but unfortunately they didn’t.

“You look at the example where they hit the crossbar and none of our players have reacted to the rebound. We knew they’d be a threat from second balls from set plays.

“I thought that was an example of where we had no life about us today, it was all waiting for somebody else to do it. If that’s what you do you get nothing out of the game.”

With nine corners and a run of free kicks, he also admitted that it was disappointing not to see the keeper tested more.

“There were some good balls that went in and there were people getting half near the ball, I just think you have to have more desire and aggression to go and get on the end of it,” he insisted.

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“We could maybe say with a bit of luck it might have dropped to our feet, but you have to make your own luck by making runs and positive actions.

“Let’s be honest, because of the way we went about it in the first half, we’ve got nothing out of the game and that’s probably what we deserved.

“It’s alright keeping it where we did, but possession stats do my head in. I want to keep the ball in the final third and produce exciting moments. It doesn’t interest me keeping it in our own half.

“We have to do it to try and drag players out, but I think we’re a good team when we press and win it back high up the pitch.

“When we play with a level of intensity and get quality balls into the box and get shots off, we’re hard to deal with. We’ve done it a few times in the second half maybe but, as the result suggests, not enough.

“And the first goal is massive at any level. Even after that, there was still enough time for us to do it, but unfortunately we haven’t. I keep using the word unfortunate, but is it unfortunate, or have we just not done enough to get it.”

Last season’s success was built on success on our own turf – an ingredient he’s looking for again.

“We have to make it a fortress,” he commented. “Everybody tells me it’s a horrible journey to get here, but if we go into games like we did in the first half we’re going to make it a nice easy place to come.

“I thought we played at a real pedestrian pace in the first half with no bravery about us, and for us to get anything out of this league we’re going to have to play with some bravery.

“Terry Ablade came on and he had a bit of life about him. We turned them round and he got in behind with his pace, and he used it more effectively than he did on Tuesday night, which is a bonus.

“I thought even before Terry came on, particularly in midfield, I don’t think we had a lot in terms of the front three, but in midfield we had a bit more desire about us. Just again, not enough, and we can’t start game like we did and allow them to have that foothold. 

“The fans tried to help with pushing us onwards. They’ve turned up in their numbers, which is magnificent. When I saw the rain and what I was like before the game, I did wonder if it would affect things.

“We can’t credit them and thank them enough for that type of attendance, sadly we haven’t put on a performance, particularly in the first half, to give them a lot to be happy about.”


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