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Brown: We want to make Highbury a hard place to come to

16 September 2022

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Head coach Scott Brown sat down with the media on Thursday afternoon and previewed his side’s Sky Bet League One fixture against Charlton Athletic.

The Cods performed valiantly in their last outing, which resulted in a 1-0 win over recently relegated side Peterborough United on Tuesday evening, and Brown is hoping that momentum from that win will carry over into this weekend’s clash against the Addicks, which is in front of the home fans at Highbury.

Here’s what the gaffer had to say in his pre-match interview:

On momentum and how it could help us against Charlton…

“We’ve been watching them a lot over the last couple of days and I know a lot of the players who are there already, I played with one at Celtic a while ago as well. They try and play, want to get the ball down, and play proper. They are very expansive with the two wingers staying out wide and those wingers are very direct.

“The side’s good on the ball, can create chances, and can catch you on the counter as well because they’ve got so much pace up top. For us, it’s about we control the game. Football is about this, we need to make sure we turn up, perform, and stick to the game plan too.

“Momentum is key in football; you go into the dressing room and see everyone is happy and they want to go out to training and do a bit extra, it’s the opposite if you are losing games as people’s heads start going down. As a manager, you need to make sure you can put an arm around them in those moments, talk to them, and be the same person whether you win or lose.”

On the character and desire showed by the squad in recent weeks…

“The progress that’s been made isn’t just from myself and the coaching staff, it’s come from the lads’ willingness to work, them wanting to defend their goals, and wanting to be brave and put their bodies on the line - they’ve been brilliant at that. When I came in, I said I wanted to work on the structure behind the ball which we have done well recently and did a lot throughout pre-season.

“It’s about desire from them; we can only show them and put them in positions, but it’s up to them and their desire to go and affect games, to put their bodies on the line, to go and make that tackle. The other day, Josh Vela’s tackle as the last man when the ball was in the box, he put his body in the way, gets the block, and within 10-seconds, we are up the other end on a counter.

“Small details like that, you can’t coach into somebody, they’ve got to have that willingness to go that extra mile. When we were looking to bring someone in, we always did our digging and background searches to make sure they are good people and will fit into our dressing room, as it’s a fantastic group in there. You want to bring in the right people in the right areas to make sure that continues.”

On the team’s performance against Peterborough…

“I thought the lads defended well when we had to and were calm and collected with the ball as well. The game plan was to sit in and press when we can as a team and make sure that when we do, we go as an 11, not a three or a four. It was huge for us to do that but, at the same time, it was about us keeping the ball, keeping our shape, and our discipline too.

“For me, the lads worked hard and that showed in the stats. Football is a game of running, you need to make sure you are fit, and I’ve pushed the lads and put demands on them in that way and they’ve managed to come through. There were 98 minutes on the clock, and they were still running around, blocking shots, and being brave on the ball.

“That’s what I ask, what I want for them, and they’ve set the standards now. I know they can do that weekly and we’ve just got to make sure that we are ready to go, be refreshed, and look forward to the next game. Peterborough is a hard place to go, but we defended well, and we knew they were going to have chances.

“We’ve got a great goalkeeper, who is in fantastic form, with a great back four in front of him that have been playing together quite a lot recently so they are starting to understand each other’s jobs, and have also brought in a couple of players for up top and in the midfield as well so we’ve added legs and hopefully goals to the team, which Josh [Vela] did for us on Tuesday night.”

On making Highbury a hard place to come to…

“We want to be hard to beat, want teams to come to Highbury and struggle, and we know what the weather can be like in the winter as well, so we want this to be a hard place to come to. We don’t want teams to come here and play nice football, the pitch is tight, so we want to get after teams and cause them problems – that only happens if the defence is structurally sound behind the ball, which the lads have been doing well.

“It’s the same for every team in the league, you want your home form to be outstanding and for it to be a rough place for teams to come. You’ve got to have that willingness as we don’t just want to go direct, you’ve seen the possession stats recently, we want to try and keep the ball and play but can also do the hard and nasty part of it as well.

“I’m proud of how they’ve done that and their willingness to learn as their understanding of the game is getting better and better as well. If you want to keep a clean sheet, you’ve got to keep that mentality to keep it and these lads have got that. We need to add more clean sheets and we need to make sure we build on the win and result that we got on Tuesday night.”

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