It's going to be a challenge, but we look forward to that challenge - Interview with Bobby Wilkinson

Ahead of tomorrow’s league match against Slough Town, we spoke to manager Bobby Wilkinson, where he gave us his thoughts on bouncing back from last weekend, preparing for tomorrow’s fixture, and finding consistency going forward.

Commiserations following Saturday’s result. Obviously not the result we wanted. What positives can be taken from the Bath game?

We were all disappointed to go out of the cup, but we’ve got to remember we were up against top of the league. It was a game of two halves, but we moved on from that very quickly and started preparing straight away for Slough.

As a manager, how crucial is it to keep the players’ spirits high and get them back in preparation after a disappointing result, particularly before the next game?

The players are disappointed in losing, but their spirits are always high. You win, lose and draw [together]. It’s how you react to these situations. They were gutted that they went out of that cup competition, but they’re a good bunch of lads who knew that they had to get straight back up the next day.

You mentioned after last game about the importance of your players finding consistency. Just how important is that over the course of a league campaign?

Consistency is key in the league. It’s about playing sevens and eights [out of 10] every week, not playing great one week and then not the next. We’ve spoken about it in great depth as a team. We need to make sure we’re ready for the challenges ahead of us.

Slough have also just come off the back of an FA Cup replay. Is this the right time to face them, given possible exhaustion levels?

That doesn’t wash with me. I look at it that they’re more confident and can’t wait for the next game. They made a few changes and they deserved their win. Right now Slough are in very good form, so it’s going to be a challenge. But, we look forward to that challenge. We’re in quite good form as well!

What also may be encouraging for the team is that our recent winning record against The Rebels is exceptional. Although you prefer not to take the focus away from preparing your own players, surely this will be on the mind of their squad?

Last year was last year. He’s got a new squad. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’ve just got to make sure you turn up, wear the badge with pride and try to win a game of football.

Slough are only a point ahead of us. When two teams are this close to each other before a game, how much more crucial do the three points become?

People can say it’s crucial, but it’s not about how you start a season. It’s how you finish. This is the next game, and it’s just that we’re playing Slough. You have to earn the right to win, and the league at the moment is so tight.

So this is where your need for consistency comes in. It’s all about getting the players prepared and maintaining those standards, and then the results will pay dividends.

Yeah, consistency, game management and building is key. We know how leagues go. Some teams will start brilliantly and then fade away. Right now, when I talk to everyone, I say you build and build, then attack. You can’t build overnight. When you look at the top five or six teams, their squad has been together for two or three years. Eventually we will be where we wanna be when we find our consistency.

That’s how you build success in football, by building and preparing. Would we like to have more points on the board? Yes, of course. But if you said to me where we were now compared to 365 days ago, on and off the pitch, I would have bitten your arm off. The chairman, board and volunteers deserve the credit for getting the club in a good place.

Both sides have been in good scoring form recently. Is an end-to-end high scoring match something a manager enjoys!? Or are they happier seeing a more disciplined game from their team?

I’m a manager who would rather be more disciplined. If you’ve got a striker who can score goals, your job is then to make sure you don’t concede. But, we’re lucky enough that we’re getting firepower. Ezio [Touray] is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully that could take us to another level.

Slough Town’s home record this season has been shaky. Although it’s still early in the season, is this the type of thing that will be on the player’s minds going into the game?

No. They should be confident, because we’ve prepared right. We’re going into their backyard, and we’ve just got to make sure we turn up.

Your success at Hungerford needs no introduction. Being at the ground of their Berkshire rivals, has this ignited extra hunger for you personally to win this game?

The hunger is there every single day. I always just work towards the next game. It’s just the next game and it’s three points. We prepare the same for Slough as we did for Bath last week.

Interview by Jack Webb

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