Manager looks ahead to Dagenham
Ahead of the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale expressed that his team needed to find a winning habit.
Draws and losses have been habitual in recent months at St James Park – however the Grecians have often been on the wrong side of extremely tight margins and things haven’t quite fallen perfectly at either goalmouth.
So Tis is hopeful that the team can merit and claim a victory against the Daggers this weekend to put paid to the winless streak, as well as kick-starting a few more triumphs in the coming weeks.
Indeed, despite any apprehension or anxiousness that might occur naturally off the back of a winless run at the Park, he hopes that his players can react to that in the right way.
“We haven’t won games, we’ve drawn a few and we’ve lost too many, and the mood is anxious,” said Tis. “I don’t think that’s a secret – but it’s how you use that and play with it, and results will determine if that continues or not.
“There are lots of things you play with, or through, when you’re a footballer. It’s part and parcel of being a professional sportsman that you have to deal with fear, anxiety, embarrassment or any number of emotions that aren’t necessarily football-related but have a big impact on how the team plays.
“Surroundings impinge on how people think and feel, and I can’t change that. You would have to be pretty emotionless to not feel it – but the key to this is that results do change things. Ultimately a football team needs to have success on the football pitch.
“Winning games and scoring more than the opposition is what it’s all about – however we do it, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve got to get into a habit of winning games.”
A crowd of 1,207 got behind City’s under-21s on Tuesday as they were cruelly knocked out of the Under-21 Premier League Cup to Burnley, and the atmosphere was decidedly free of anxiety off the back of another glowing performance.
The competition has showcased the younger players and even propelled a number of them into the first team, and using a younger spine to the team in the closing stages of the campaign is something that Paul is giving serious thought too.
“It’s a definite consideration – they have been very well and it’s a case of weighing up their inexperience with their current performance,” Paul continued. “The way they played on Tuesday [against Burnley] again was clear of anxiety and fear and they looked free and purposeful.
“I have to get the balance right in the side between that youth and ability, and knowhow and other elements – but they’re certainly getting closer and closer.
“There are players under pressure in the team, and that’s the nature of football. If you don’t win as many games as you’d like then you need to have your position threatened by the players coming through.
“You couldn’t get a better under-21 group than we’ve got to push the first team. We are very fortunate to have that situation and I have to use it wisely.
On Dagenham, Tis pointed out that getting the win wouldn’t necessarily be straightforward – the London club have a number of threats in the team, no less than former West Ham and Burnley winger Zavon Hines and Irish striker Rhys Murphy, already on 13 goals for the season.
Paul explained that it would be important to understand what kind of obstacle the Daggers will prove – as well as explaining the importance of taking points of their rivals. A home win would sent the Grecians a point above the visitors and provide another buffer against the lower teams.
“They’re building a good team and they have a forward threat,” he continued. “We haven’t beaten them for three games now and Wayne Burnett is building a good team.
“They will be workmanlike and they have a culture at the club of fighting and scrapping, and he has added some good football in there. We’ll need to be ready for it.
“It’s the points you gain, but it’s also the points you take off others. We have to be conscious of that now. We are a development club but we do have to be practically-minded, especially now we have 12 games to go and see where we are.
“We need a realistic, practical mind on things and that is one of the elements: not just the result, but who we are playing and how that affects the bottom half of the league.”