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Michael Appleton's Notes in the Coventry Programme

19 November 2016

Appleton looks back at the last three games and writes about Bisham Abbey

United's Head Coach Michael Appleton wrote the following notes for the match programme for the Coventry City game:

Good afternoon everybody and welcome back for our second game against Coventry in a month. It’s unusual to play the same team twice this early in the season but our visitors edged a close game at the Ricoh and we will be out for a little bit of revenge today.

Coventry have gone on a good run since that evening and highlighted just what a close league this is. We have been frustratingly inconsistent so far but with two home games in a row it is a chance to put two positive results together and start getting the rewards that our performances have deserved.

It has been a while since we last played at home. Last time we were here was against Millwall who continued the trend of scoring ‘worldy’ goals against us: Coventry did the same, as did Southend. All were good goals but all of them came out of the blue in games that had been very close up to that point. You can sometimes applaud a great goal, but you can always respond and I didn’t think we did that as well as we might have done against Millwall. Our home form has been good in general and we have to get back to winning games here as soon as possible.

We then went off for three very different away games in three different competitions. Merstham in the FA Cup was a difficult one for us but I thought we showed a great attitude and terrific professionalism to make sure there were no slip ups. I asked players to step up into the starting XI and show me why they should be in that every week, and every one of them rose to that challenge.

The same was true at Chelsea, where an extraordinary night ended with the longest penalty shoot-out ever in English football. Before it got to that stage I was pleased with the way we approached the game and the urgency we showed in the second half, knowing that we needed to at least equalise to get through. We did that through Kane Hemmings’ goal and that meant the penalties were irrelevant, other than giving players a little bit of experience in that situation.

It was good to make progress in both cups, but I would have traded both results for three points at Shrewsbury on Saturday. We started slowly and although we improved after the break we didn’t really test the keeper enough.

We have been up to Bisham Abbey for a couple of days this week to get the team away and talk through the values and expectations for the rest of the season. It has been very positive and hopefully the togetherness and spirit in the squad shines through today.

Finally, away from football, today is Military Day and on behalf of the management and staff I’d like to thank all of the serving personnel here today for their dedication, bravery and courage. We talk a lot about having those qualities in football but the real heroes are out there serving their country and certainly help put sport into perspective.

Michael Appleton

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