First of all, how have things been at Newport in the months since we last spoke?
It’s been a difficult winter, in the league. Whilst we went a long, long time without a win, we never got a proper beating. The only footballing lesson we had was from Colchester at the very beginning of the slide. The rest were single goal defeats or draws in some games where the balance would usually dictate a win. We’ve had our injuries, and now we have pretty good squad to pick from at a good time to hopefully make a push up the league (with 2 or 3 games in hand on a few teams).
What did you make of Newport’s 1-0 win in the reverse fixture?
For you I imagine it was frustrating!!! We were happy for you have the ball, it was important for us to maintain our defensive structure, and limit your creativity and movement – not be drawn out by runners or passed around. We haven’t done too badly against Ryan Lowe’s teams recently and I think we set out to frustrate you and try to exploit set-pieces or the physical battle. We had more shots, 10 from set-pieces and 8 of which were headers. So it tells you a little of we tried to exploit Plymouth.
With games still in hand, what would you say your ambitions for the rest of the season are?
We want play-offs – last season has raised expectations, a bit too much probably, but if we win those games in hand we may just get there. The other reality is, the league is much better this season. The quality of the teams makes it much harder, enough though it remains a competitive league.
Michael Flynn is now one of the country’s longest serving managers. Has your opinion of him changed at all over the course of the season?
Yes, my opinion of him has improved – again. He wants to improve, constantly. He doesn’t hide from some of the negatives of the past few months, he wants to address them, learn, and grow. The difficulty for a manager is that when the players are on the pitch, he can’t control their decision making and some of that decision making has been detrimental to us during our winter lows. I’ve got a lot of time and respect for him personally.
What have you made of Newport’s dealings in the January transfer window?
I’m very shocked we were able to sign Ashley Baker, that is a fantastic signing for the club long term. We needed someone with pace like Jordan Green, it will allow us some width which we have been lacking in the final third. I like the look of Waters, and his goal scoring record with more minutes would not be sniffed at – hopefully he can make an impact when we need him. Gorman is a bit of an unknown to me, but we’ve seen that players switching clubs in the same division doesn’t make them poor signings – some set-up’s work for an individual’s whilst another may not, so we’ll see.
Do you think there will be any difference in tactical style from Newport at the weekend?
I think it will be similar to the last game. We may try and press from the front but we won’t want to be caught out of position, we’ll want to be tight and compact in our own half to limit your movement and either try to exploit you on the break or from dead balls.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
I’m not a fan of criticising individuals, and this will also depend on how we line-up and what type of game we need to play. At times we have failed to track runners from midfield and the positional awareness of a coupe of the midfield does worry me. But as you don’t seem to favour long balls, this doesn’t worry me so much as you tend to move and pass within smaller areas of the field – as far as I’m aware.
What have you made of Plymouth Argyle’s season so far?
I think Plymouth have been very good; it can take time for a new manager to implement his philosophies but the squad appear to be equipped to play as they are asked. Results look a bit more stable over the past 2 months than previous months. I can see you going up automatically, something I wouldn’t be bitter about, my Mum’s from Plymouth so I could have easily been supporting them instead!
What are your predictions for the rest of the League Two season?
I don’t dare to guess!
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
0-0 *fingers crossed*