United's head coach in the Portsmouth matchday magazineAlthough we are only three games in to the new season there is no point hiding from what have been three disappointing results so far. We have played some good football at times, stuck to our beliefs and principles but results have not come our way as yet. Provided we keep doing the right things then those results will come, hopefully today as we welcome Andy Awford and his Portsmouth side.
I enjoyed my time at Portsmouth, even though they were troubled times for the club. The fans are unbelievable and there are some excellent people behind the scenes there who I look forward to seeing today. However, my focus is purely on getting our season up and running and getting that first win under our belts.
I have watched and analysed our games so far many times and there have been some really good things happening. In the first match, here against Burton, we more than matched a side who I expect to be up there at the top of the table come May. They have challenged for the last two or three years and built a squad and a way of playing that suits those players, and that is what we are looking to achieve here.
I thought we then played very well down at Bristol City in the Capital One Cup. It was good to see Carlton Morris and Danny Hylton open their accounts but the whole team were excellent and it has set up a trip to West Brom next Tuesday that I am sure you are all looking forward to.
That is a welcome distraction but we were bitterly disappointed to then lose the games at Mansfield and Morecambe afterwards. I heard both the opposition managers saying they got out of jail and how well we played: nice to hear but not really any consolation at all. At Mansfield we switched off and got punished, at Morecambe key decisions didn’t go our way.
I would like to thank everyone who travelled to those games. You gave us excellent support and hopefully you saw that we are not a million miles away. We could moan about luck or fate or whatever but the results would still stand so you just move on and look to respond in a positive fashion. The key things are to stay strong and keep belief: in ourselves and in each other.
Today gives us a perfect opportunity. Portsmouth will bring a lot of passionate noisy fans and a side that plays good football. It should be a great occasion and is the sort of game and challenge that every player should look forward to. It is up to us to add the right result to another decent performance and leave you all smiling as you go home tonight.
Read the full programme, including a double page of Mark Ashton's thoughts, at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc