Assistant head coach Steven Whittaker sat down with the press at Poolfoot Farm on Thursday afternoon and previewed his side’s upcoming home clash against Oxford United.
Whittaker, alongside head coach Scott Brown, will be happy with how their players have performed over the last couple of weeks as they maintain an unbeaten record since the new year and have scored a goal in 15 consecutive games in all competitions – now they face the task with hosting The U’s at Highbury this Saturday in the first home league game of 2023.
Here’s what he has to say in his interview:
On Saturday’s opposition…
“Oxford [United] are a good footballing team; they work a lot of attempts on goal and put quite a few crosses into the box, so they really are a team that we have to be wary of.
“We did well against them down at their place, we drew 1-1 and did well against the ball. At home, we are hoping to have a little bit more of the ball and stay on the front foot as we have done over the last couple of weeks.
“The league is a tight one, so we aren’t looking too far ahead, it’s all in the balance at the moment. We’re in a good spot and have a home game at the weekend in which we can hopefully go and take the points from and then look forward to the two times we face Sheffield Wednesday later this month – we’ll keep assessing the games as they come.”
On the boost the QPR win has given to the squad…
“It’s a great lift for everyone at the football club to get through to the next round and do it by beating a side from the Championship. It’s been a great feel-good factor this week, going through the training schedule, even with the weather not being the best, but the guys have approached it with good feelings off the back of that victory.
“It was nice to get a victory at home as well, that’s something that we’ve been trying to get to the boys, we needed to improve our home form in the league so hopefully, we can do that on Saturday and build on the win over QPR. We’ve been competitive in every game, whether that be in the cup or the league – we’re just going to try and take some momentum into the coming weeks.
“We won last week, beat Wigan [Athletic] earlier in the season, and only lost to Everton by one goal, but made a good account of ourselves that day as well so regardless of who we are coming up against, the lads are giving 100 per cent and are trying to play the way we want to play, or the way we see ourselves attacking any particular game.”
On the recent goalscoring record and Omochere’s impact…
“We were very good at keeping goals to a minimum at the start of the season, but the problem was scoring goals, which would have allowed us to take more points, but as you’ve just said [Town have scored in every one of their last 15 games], we’ve found the improvement we’ve been looking for. If we can put the two together, it’s a good basis for getting three points.
“Promise [Omochere] has made a big impact in the last few weeks, getting his opportunities, and taking them, and that’s down to his drive and knowhow of what he wants to do in games. Some players have natural instincts in going and getting goals, we knew he had that from his time in Ireland and he brings a physicality to the game every time he plays as well.”
On how his first few months have been at Town…
“We came into the squad after the side had what would be classed as a poor season, having only stayed up on goal difference, so it was all about us putting our mark on things early doors and getting back to basics, focusing on the principles. All these things take time and we’re continuing to get better at certain things – we’re here mainly to bring some stability.
“I think we’ve done that and have hopefully created a nice environment where people want to come to work and enjoy what we're doing as a group. We’ve had the support from the staff who were already here as well so it’s not just what we’ve done, it’s the help that we’ve got from everyone at the club, that’s right the way through, I’m not naming names as there are too many.
“The hours and work that you put in is there to see, you learn that in the latter stages of your footballing career, you start going into the coaching side of the game and see what it takes to try and prepare a team. I’ve enjoyed every minute, and I’m sure Scott [Brown] is the same, as we’ve enjoyed the experience of working at the club and everyone who is here.”