Bobby, we spoke after the Dartford game and you seemed in good spirits. Going into our upcoming game, how has the spirit amongst the lads been this week?
The boys are all together. They’re enjoying their football, as winning breeds happiness, alongside success. But, we were straight back to the drawing board this week, working hard to try and beat Hemel Hempstead tomorrow.
It seems to me that the most important thing right now is to stay as disciplined as possible, without the wins getting to the lads too much.
My main priority now is that we all stay grounded and think about the next game ahead. I’ve been in the game long enough to see that winning and then losing three in a row is possible. It’s just about one game at a time and seeing where we end up.
Although we’ve had three brilliant wins, we have some challenges ahead. We’ve lost a player or two in our line-up over the last couple of weeks, so we need to do a bit of tinkering. I’ve tried to do some wheeling and dealing to get the right players in, and hopefully that will pay off.
I’ll just touch on something you said to me a couple of days ago. You’ve been working behind-the-scenes every day over the past week. That’s an absolutely hectic schedule, and it leads me to a wider point that I want to discuss. Just how much work goes on behind-the-scenes from a manager when preparing for games?
You’ve seen first-hand what I’ve been doing. My management staff have also been working really hard, but I want people to see what I’ve done over the last two weeks. Ongoing football every single night, just to keep things ticking over. It’s nice that people get to hear a bit about what goes on behind-the-scenes, because I don’t think people see a lot of that. I’ve been managing for nearly 17 years, and one thing I’ve learnt is that you’ve got to give your all at any club you’re at. So, I will continue to keep working hard. Standards will always be high with me.
Those standards and you and your staff have set looks to have really rubbed off on the players, considering the level of commitment they show every game.
I think it’s rubbing off round everyone at the club. As a manager, I’m here to bring everyone together. I wouldn’t ask people to do something that I wouldn’t do. That’s why I’m always grateful for the work that the volunteers do, the sort of stuff that people might not see. Hopefully this season we’ve shown everyone just how much dedication goes on.
I played five senior lads in the under-23s game this week to get them match fit, and they did it. They deserve so much credit. My physio finished work early to make sure she was at that game. Those are the things people don’t see.
I’ll move on to another senior player. We briefly touched on Calvin’s situation. I can assume you want to keep things as secret as possible, but is there anything you are able to share about how he’s been getting on this week?
We’re waiting for a scan. We’re really gutted for him, because he’s been such a pleasure to have around. We don’t know how long yet, which is why we’re working round the clock to try and get another player in. We will know more as soon as he’s had his scan.
Speaking to the lads, they’ve all said how much of an influence he’s been in the dressing room.
He’s a leader. He listens and learns, and he’s always looking to be better. He adapts well to any situation, and he’s been a pleasure to work with. But, we’re all together, and he’ll be a part of this group whether or not he is fit to play. Even Ben Thomson, who has just retired, will be part of the group for the rest of the season.
Speaking of Thommo, we said goodbye to him this week. I’d love to have you touch on your own relationship with him as one of your players.
I’ve known about his decision for a couple of weeks. I’m very close with him, which is what I wanted after what he’s gone through this season on and off the pitch. When we spoke, we were both upset about him retiring, but I understood his decision. He’s a winner and a Weymouth legend, and he won’t be forgotten. He’s invited to all sessions, and he can come and watch, and still be part of the team.
He was, and always will be, a player who was adored in equal amounts by fans and team-mates. How much of an influence was he in the dressing room?
He’s massive. He makes everyone smile when he walks in. He’s just a fantastic lad to work with. I had the pleasure of working with him for a year. I’m gutted to lose him but I understand why he’s made his decision. He’ll be on his journey now, but he’s always welcome in the changing room.
Moving on now, we’re currently 11 points off the relegation zone. I get the impression, however, that for you it’s more about how much further we can climb up the table.
All I’m trying to do is climb a mountain. We were at the bottom of that mountain a year ago, and we’re climbing step by step. We’re nowhere near the top yet, but we can only look up. That’s my team talk to the boys each week. Let’s keep climbing this mountain. I’m the sort of manager who always thinks upwards. That won’t change.
But, what is really nice is that it feels like the whole club is together as a family. We’re all pushing in the same direction. I can’t wait to see the fans coming out in their numbers tomorrow – as a 12th man. Let’s try and go four games unbeaten, even though we’ll be up against a strong Hemel Hempstead side.
Speaking of the fans, tomorrow will be our first home game in three weeks. With our excellent form, how buzzing are the lads to continue that momentum in front of the Terras faithful?
Last time we were at home, against Slough, the fans really pushed us to get that second and third goal. We’re also playing excellent football right now. Short, sharp, slick football. Also, we’re seeing people talk about the way we’re playing. Dartford spoke about us in depth last week. I can’t guarantee that will happen every game, but one thing I can promise is that we will try to entertain and get the ball into the box as much as we can.
It must be nice to hear other people recognise just how exciting our football is right now.
It’s nice to hear that, but we want that to continue, and that will happen by continuing to win games. This is why I’m onto my players every week about standards. We’re at the business end of the season now; we can’t let our standards slip.
But, the most important thing is that we’re changing our draws into wins. This is something I said to you a lot a couple of months ago, and now we’ve shot up the table.
This won’t be an easy game, though. We’re up against a team who have been in and around the play-offs all season. They know what it takes to beat teams and compete with those at the top.
We’re against a side with a big budget and talented players. They’re having a very good season, but they’ll be up against a confident side. Make no mistake, though, they will have done a lot of work preparing for this game. Teams may not have done that a month ago, but they will now that they’ve seen how well we’re playing. But, right now this is all about us. We’re looking forward to this game.
As always, what has been your key message to the players going into tomorrow’s game?
Consistency is key. Can we go four unbeaten, and do something no-one outside the club thought we could do?
We’ve only lost one game in eight. We have the chance to make it one in nine. I’m challenging the players to put on another good performance.