What’s the latest on Elliot Bonds and George Lloyd?
I don’t know. I’ve not seen Lloydy since I’ve walked back into the dressing room. I genuinely couldn’t tell you anything about him. Obviously it wasn’t particularly nice and 10 minutes of injury time tells you. He was awake and talking and I think there was a dilated pupil or something but I am not a medic, I don’t know. Bondsy, I have seen him. It didn’t look great and his reaction didn’t look great either, but until we know the facts there is no point speculating.
What did you make of the game?
I thought we were good. People from outside will look in and think ‘well, you beat them’, but they have just conceded four and five so they are not going to come here and roll over and say ‘you can score four or five against us as well’. I thought they banked in, they were hard to beat and they had a right go. They were a threat on the counter because Eisa and Jarvis are both 6ft plus and they will both run. I thought it was a professional performance and we saw it out well. Opportunities, the keeper has made a couple of fantastic saves. Blairy (Matty Blair) has got in behind their backline twice and couldn’t quite pick somebody out. Even in the last minute there was an opportunity so there were moments where it could have been a little bit easier and 10 minutes’ added time goes up, but we saw it out well. It’s another game when we’ve only conceded a couple of shots on target, so the learning of earlier in the season not getting involved in a basketball match, we calmed it down at times and took the sting out of it when we needed to. We’ve had two games like that earlier in the season like that and lost them both.
So tonight you’re a satisfied manager?
Yes, any win in this league is tough, make no mistake. We are not naïve enough and I keep saying it every week because it’s true, Scunthorpe have had two poor results and they knew they were coming to a half decent team, so they were ready for us. We started brightly and the only criticism is at times we could keep the ball a little bit more. We almost went into protection mode a bit too early, too soon at times, but in the last 20 minutes we saw it out really well and calmed it down.
Would it be fair to say you are a little more fluid away from home than at home?
Teams come to stop us. There is no getting away from it. When we are away from home, crowds or no crowds, teams at home generally have to take the game to you. I don’t know what the possession stats were today, but I’d imagine they were 60 odd per cent again and I imagine there were a lot of completed passes. We opened them up quite a few times, without that final touch. Their keeper has made two or three good saves. Are we more fluid? I don’t know, maybe it’s the way other teams set up and we don’t change a lot of what we do.
You made the change with Reuben Reid coming in for Andy Williams. What was the reasoning behind that?
Just to freshen it up. Nothing that Willo’s done because he’s scored three in six and Reuben has scored four in three starts now. That’s credit to Reuben and it shows you the way he’s been looking after himself and the way he’s been training. The same for Clem (Chris Clements) who was excellent again today as he was on Saturday. The two injured lads, I am pretty confident they won’t be involved at the weekend, so it’s a chance for two others to come in. Alex (Addai) came on and affected the game and it will be needed. We are happy with the numbers in the squad and we have quality throughout the squad.
Does it make it harder for you as a manager as you think ahead with so many midweek games in succession?
No, the only difficult thing watching so much football and I already know quite a bit about Mansfield already, but I had to focus on the game today. You have to constantly try and get ahead of the game. We will do as we always do, having a look at what we did well and what we didn’t. We’ve done slightly less analysis than we normally do because you can have ‘paralysis by analysis’ in walking up to the analysis room three times a week and they can get bored of it. Five clean sheets in seven games is not a bad platform to start with and we’ve scored in every game too so it’s not a bad mix.
How pleased have you been with Chris Clements since he came back into the team?
He showed a bit of a different side to him today. Clem knows that when he plays he has to get on the ball. When he’s come out of the team we’ve told him he has to get on the ball because his other attributes aren’t good enough to carry him in the team but his one USP is his ability on the ball and he does get us playing. A couple of years ago when it was him and Conor (Thomas) – two really, really good footballers – we did pass teams to death, because they understand the rotations and when to come to the ball and when to move away from it. I am pleased for Clem because he’s a good character when he’s not in the team, he gets on with it and from my point of view he’s low maintenance. He’s fit every day in training and rarely injured so he’s a manager’s dream and when he comes in and performs like that, it helps.
Conor Thomas is reliable from the spot, but how pleasing is it to know you have two other players who can step up and score penalties?
I was more confident today than I was on Saturday. I said to Reuben on Saturday, if you were on the pitch, you’d be taking it. That was Sercs’ (Liam Sercombe) 500th professional game and Reubs has taken his goal off him! Assuming he’d have scored. I thought Reuben was good tonight. When you get the ball into him in and around the box, he slips people in, he was strong and when you get the ball into him he holds it up. A completely different player to Willo. Two target men, but in different types of ways. There were quite a few who did well tonight, but I was particularly pleased with Clem and Reuben.
Luke Varney and Reuben Reid never played up front together. Could Andy Williams and Reuben play together?
They have all been told, all five of them, that it won’t always be a big one and a little one. We’ll pick the best team we think depending on the opposition and what strengths they have and the strengths we think we have. There will be games where we might go with two smaller one or two big ones, depending on the pitch and the conditions and those sorts of things that need to be factored in. The team for Mansfield will be picked to beat Mansfield, not purely on tonight’s performance. There are things that help and people have put themselves forward and said they are ready, but a run of 11 games in 35 days, it’s see who might need to come out, who has a knock and those are the risks you have to assess to see if you take the risk.
Have you spoken to Russ Wilcox because it’s been a strange night for them with the manager having to isolate?
Yes, I spoke to him before and also when Lloydy went down during that stoppage. It’s a difficult one and the assistant manager has had symptoms and they’ve travelled together. Russ is a reliable pair of hands who has won the league, he’s been an assistant manager at Burnley with me in the Premier League, so he knows his football and he knows Scunthorpe inside out. In terms of them you couldn’t ask for anyone better to lead the team in this situation. He’s a good bloke and I’ll catch up with him now as I think it’s been difficult up there.
How pleased are you with the start to the season, with five wins from seven?
Absolutely delighted with that. Any manager who says they aren’t happy with 15 points from seven games, no matter how you get them, is a liar in my opinion. Everyone would have taken that so the key now is to keep moving forward, having that mentality of going again and again and again and doing it authentically as well. Not just eating clean for the four hours you are at the training ground, live clean at home, when nobody else is watching, not cutting corners because that’s when you really let your mates down. That ’s their job, they are professional footballers and they have to look after themselves all the time and I think they have been. Seven games gone, 39 to go and we’ll do what we’ve always done, try to win the next game.