Joey, Congratulations, it’s always nice to get the first win of any season…
Yeah it really is, especially in front of our fans here, I thought they were absolutely amazing. Just a little bit disappointing we can’t send them away a little bit happier.
I’m surmising that they’ll be happy with three points and a clean sheet, we are, but first half we could’ve put on a real show.
Is that the best 45 minutes since you’ve been here?
No, we’ve had some other good moments. I thought the Accrington Stanley game and Shrewsbury game last season, there were moments in that.
This season for sure, I think we’ve created more chances in that game than we have in the whole of pre-season and the game’s so far and it’s been tough, it’s been frustrating for all of us because we see on the training ground and I know why I’ve brought certain players in to play certain positions but tonight was the first opportunity to get to a back three.
Alex Rodman was meant to play 60 minutes, but obviously no plan survives contact with the enemy…
We had Sam Finley down to do 75, Aaron Collins meant to do 75 but injuries and knocks were picked up elsewhere in the team, obviously Anssi Jaakkola picked up a bit of a knock in the build-up and I thought Belly (James Belshaw) was superb.
We challenged the group and said ‘look if we’re going to get this job done it’s going to be a group effort’ and I thought the players really took that on tonight and certainly first half we showed signs of the team that we’re capable of becoming but also our players have seen what our fanbase is like.
They were really raucous and noisy in there and it was because we were playing the right way, attacking football on the front-foot, service in the box and that’s what the Gasheads want.
They want to go and support their team home and away, we’ve got to give them a more consistent team and performances like we did in the first half.
Was the second half a little bit of tired legs for some of those players who haven’t had the fitness work that you might have liked over the last few weeks?
Yeah, it was, as i said they’ve all been at different stages because of covid and knocks and niggles and i still think we’re four-five weeks away from really starting to give a consistent performance for 90 minutes and it takes time, i’m not even at the end of my first recruitment window and because of the way we’ve nose-dived into the ground at the back end of last season, we’re three league games in and pre-season was worrying because we didn’t create a lot pre-season and that came into the season but I think we’re starting to get key components back and I think tonight certainly in the first period we saw the style that we want to play.
I’m just disappointed we weren’t two, three, four five up in the first half because we’ve had a couple of really good penalties shouts and some really good opportunities that I’m sure in four, five, six weeks time the players will be sharp and they’ll go in the back of the net.
I guess it is a journey of creating chances, a good four, five six in the first half, yes you didn’t take them but at least you’re creating them…
We didn’t create much in the last three games so at the back of a coach’s mind you’re always thinking you want that second and third goal because one nil is a dangerous scoreline and credit to Oldham, my thoughts are with Keith Curle, I know he was a little bit under weather, I was with him at QPR and he’s a top guy so I wish him a speedy recovery so credit to them they changed shape at half time, made a couple of substitutions, they were playing you’ll have to bleep this out, f*** it football, you’re getting beat one nil away from home and you just go for it going 4-2-4, credit to them they tried to get themselves back in the game and we had to defend manfully and our goalkeeper when required was there with the stops.
We were a little bit nervy after 60-75/80 minutes but I felt the lads that came onto the pitch, Cian Harries, Sam Nicholson and Brett Pitman were superb at helping us manage out those last 10 minutes. We don’t know how to win because it’s been a while certainly in our stadium and you have to learn how to win games of football so one nil and a clean sheet is the best result in football albeit we’ve got to drive on and expect a little bit more and certainly our fans go home tonight happy but we’re fully aware of the work to do, we’ve got lots of work in front of us.
I could pick out most of the team, a lot of good performances, always nice for a striker to get a first goal at the club, so it’s something Harvey (Saunders) will remember even if it did get the deflection…
Yeah I asked him ‘was it going in’? And he said ‘it was going in anyway’, that’s what good strikers do but yeah he played in his normal position today, wide outside of a frontman and Azz’s (Aaron Collins) best position is probably outside of a frontman but they did ithe job between the two of them because we don’t have that number nine fully fit and firing.
We have Brett (Pitman) coming off the bench tonight who wasn’t initially on the bench but did a session this morning and said ‘I’ve got 20 minutes in me’, the physios said ten but he said no, which is what you want.
Sam Finley another one chucking himself in, they’ve got the character to say ‘no the team needs me and I’m ready to go’ and for me as a coach it’s really pleasing it shows the appetite of the personnel we’ve brought in and I think our fans have seen today with the tackles and the way they were fully committed just how much they care and how important it is to defend the quarters and be proud of this stadium.
I didn’t speak to them much before the game, other than saying we’ve got to get the intensity right and if you get the intensity right this crowd, they’re ready to travel all around the country to get behind you and I think the lads realised that at half time.
I don’t think they realise sometimes just what a big football club this is and what a passionate fan base we’ve got as I say I’m looking forward to us improving and getting the Gasheads smiles back on their faces.
Sam Finley, talk to me, I thought he was outstanding…
Yeah he was, compared to Saturday, everything is relative but to play in the manner that he has, using league games for fitness is not always ideal, I think Saturday he was a little bit disappointed in his performance but I thought tonight he showed what a quality operator he was and he will just get better and better and as the team settles down and as relationships start to build.
I think we’re going to see lots of good football here this season, it’s not a case of ‘here we go and the roadshow starts now’, because we’re going to be a big target for teams and they’re going to come here and enjoy playing in a stadium like this and a pitch like that so we have to earn the right to give the opponent fear, and we do that by winning games of football, keeping clean sheets, scoring loads of goals and creating loads of chances.
The game plan, was it tailored to play against a high line, it was cultured but direct, you went in behind whenever you could, is that something you want from your team permanently or just for tonight’s opponents?
We felt that with the personnel available to us, playing centre-halves at full-back and back fours was the best we had available safely to get the players there. Tonight with that group nudging on and players returning from injury we could be a bit more expansive because you have Alex Rodman back.
Harry Anderson isn’t a left-wing back but I thought he was outstanding, a real source of creativity and inspiration, obviously picked up a knock in the first half quite early in the game and couldn’t put any weight on his foot so he’s virtually played with one leg in the second half so I think he’s been a real good addition, and he’s growing in fitness.
The wing-backs for me were key because I built this group to play a back three and there will be times in the season when we won’t be able to do that, based on what’s available, but you’ve seen tonight why, we want to get outside of teams and service the box and it’s nice when you’ve got Brett sitting on the box saying ‘with how many chances we’re creating, if I was in this team I’d get five or six goals a game, so we know we want to get width and goalmouth action, it’s frustrating when you can’t get your tools onto the park but tonight we’ve started to get them on, baring in mind we had Anssi Jaakkola missing, Trevor Clarke missing, Brandon Hanlan missing, we’ve still got some really good players to come back and as I say the bench looks a bit stronger and we’re starting to move in the right direction.
We spoke this week about Bournemouth’s story of hitting rock bottom and climbing to the Premier League and we said ‘look, we’ll start from the bottom’, we’re one of the worst teams in the football paid ranks and we were honest and candid about that and it humbled us to get our ars*s handed to us in the first two games with late goals and the character of the playing group is what comes to the fore. I didn’t think we were capable of what we showed in the first period but that’s a testament to the characters we’ve got and that’s a response to Saturday for the manner in which we lost.
Anssi Jaakkola, what’s the situation there? I thought James Belshaw was rock steady….
I’d prefer if I had the both of them for the whole season we had to bring Belly (James Belshaw) in because he’d played a lot of games last year and we wanted somebody because of Anssi’s injury record in recent years that if called upon was ready to go and knew how to play every week.
Anssi said he felt a little bit of a twinge in his achilles in the warm-up on Saturday, he didn’t make us aware of it, he didn’t make the physios aware of it because he’s a proper fella, he’s just sucked it up and got on with it, after the game he’s got a bit of inflammation, we’ve had him scanned it’s absolutely fine, there’s no issue with it but when you’ve had four of those injuries in the past, I think he’s just a little bit nervy about managing his body, so James coming in and being the character that he is and being ready to play can alleviate that pressure if Ansi has got a bit of a niggle, but the problem for Anssi is the keeper has gone in tonight and kept a clean sheet and for me if you’re in a winning team you go in and keep the jersey, it’s somebody else’s responsibility to take it off you so don’t give somebody the opportunity to do it.
I think that’s the only way we can grow competition in the group, Anssi is a top class goalkeeper but I think Belly has shown tonight has shown just what a quality addition he is to the group.
Competition for places, Luca Hoole didn’t even make the squad tonight, was he injured or just the change of shape bumps him down the ranks?
Yeah he’s done a manful job for us, I felt for a young kid making his debut for us at Mansfield, he was superb, I thought defensively he was very good the other day, but he’s a centre half playing at full-back, us switching to a back three will suit him because he can play in the back three, but we forget he’s a young player and the situation and state of play we’re in we need established players and you can’t ask boys to do men’s jobs, it’s easier to bring players in when the teams already settled and there and iit’s a balanced group and they’re full of confidence, it’s a lot easier to put them in.
He didn’t come out of the team for anything other than the change of shape and obviously he’s had two first team games there that he probably didn’t think he was going to get when he was coming back for pre-season, so I’m really pleased for him but again we’ve got to grow players and grow them into positions.
Transfers, is the window any less cagey than it was yesterday?
We’re still early in it, that’s the problem, we’ve still got 12 days. I’ve still got my timer going from the five minutes at the end, so yeah you know how it is guys it’s going to be last embers of it, I think it’s going to be last three or four days that’s just the way the madness of football presents it, we’re grafting away in the background to try and get that balance in the squad that we’re looking for but again players returning and doing well settles you a little bit, if you’d have asked me Saturday night I’d have thought we need to get cracking and get some bodies in because we’ve lost our opening two games, tonight you can sit and take a deep breath before we start preparing for another tough fixture at Exeter on Saturday.
Outgoings, any updates there?
None as yet, I can’t see anything happening before the weekend’s game but again in football 15 minutes is a long time.
Do you worry about getting some players out that you need to get out in the time you’ve got, because it’s not as easy as it sounds?
It’s a challenge getting players in at times but it’s also a challenge getting players out, we do have some interest in taking those players and some interest in taking players on loan so the market will start to unfold and I think we will start to see, certainly some of our younger players go out and get some much-needed experience.
I’m a firm believer in going and playing men’s football, going and playing where there’s three points on the line, even if that means you’re dropping into the conference or below, having those three points on the line on a Saturday I think is valuable learning experience for young players, it doesn’t mean they’re going to play there for their whole career but it’ll toughen them up sometimes and bring them back a better player, certainly we’ll be exploring that market place and looking at the local clubs around because they’re struggling as well with the pandemic and it’ll work for both parties, they’ll get a player that is a professional and obviously we get the development minutes for him and hopefully it works for both parties.