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Paul Hurst pre Wigan

15 February 2024


Paul Hurst pre Wigan

15 February 2024

Boss Paul Hurst chatted to the media ahead of our League One clash against Wigan.

Town welcome Shaun Maloney's side to the Croud Meadow on Saturday looking to build on our impressive recent performances against Derby and Barnsley.

Earlier today, we confirmed striker Max Mata has joined Sligo Rovers on a loan deal until May.

Speaking to the assembled media, Paul discussed Max's move, what the players have been up to since Tuesday's draw against Barnsley and his thoughts ahead of another tough game against Wigan.

On the past 48 hours following Barnsley: 

“It’s very easy if you are a player if I’m honest. I think they went away from the training ground, I think they’ve been in the pool and maybe the jacuzzi. 

“They have done some stretching – probably all the stuff as a player I would have hated, I always preferred to just train.  

“But I think now they seem to like that extra day's recovery. That’s what they have done and hopefully, we will get the benefit from that.” 

On Max Mata joining Sligo on loan: 

“It’s an opportunity for Max to go and get some games, hopefully enjoy his football and get a bit of confidence back. 

"I had a chat with him, and I think he was open about the fact his confidence was not at the level he would really like. 

“Since I have come in, the system we are playing etc, I have not found a place to give him minutes and opportunities. 

“It has been difficult. We spoke the other day about potentially arranging a game because some of the lads I’ve seen on the training pitch but that can be very different (to games) at times. 

“Maybe you are training and playing in small areas and that doesn’t suit everyone. 

“From that point of view, I’m just having to make decisions that I feel are right. 

“In Max's case, he obviously had a very successful spell there before. 

"I am hoping that he can go there and start playing. We will monitor how he is getting on. 

“And then it will get to the end of the season, we will draw a line under it and go from there. 

"He has obviously got New Zealand coming up as well with games there so I think it is good for him to get playing some football. 

“I loan runs until the first week of May. So Max will get a little bit of time to go home, he will get a bit of downtime which I think he needs as well. 

“When he signed he arrived having had a long season. He will then have the games with New Zealand, prior to reporting back for pre-season training.” 

On the players who haven’t made the matchday squad recently: 

“It’s frustrating for them, I have been there plenty of times myself – again a long time ago now. 

“And they are probably the hardest ones to manage in truth. If you are playing, in reality, you are happy. Well, you hope they are. 

“The ones who I haven’t found a place to give minutes or opportunities, the ones who aren’t getting that game time can be frustrated. 

“Physically I think we are asking them to do more than what they were doing previously. That is my understanding at least. 

“Often the way to do that is some running. Then that can add to that frustration. 

“It’s not meant to be a test but it always is a test of your attitude and your character and that is something we are really big on. 

“I can only say when they are training – you can see little moments when they are frustrated but that’s in every training session because you want them to be competitive. 

“But the attitude has been right and that is all I can ask from them. 

“And I keep banging the drum that it is for them first and foremost. 

“While it might benefit myself, the rest of the staff and the team in the future – there is an element you are self-employed. 

“The best bit of advice I was ever given was exactly that. As a footballer, there is an element you are self-employed. 

“You do all you can, if the opportunity doesn’t arrive in the coming days, weeks – eventually it will and the work you have put in will benefit you. 

“It’s just trying to get that message across and hope they understand that. Believe in it.  

“At the time you can think that’s not the right information. But I guess as you get older you have that experience to know that it’s true.” 

On how the players have reacted to Tuesday's game:

"I haven't seen loads of them because they've been going off-site but they all seem in good spirits, the ones that I have seen. 

"You made a really good comparison in that we were on either side. (It was) not quite as late as Barnsley's equaliser when we scored at Derby, but the difference in how that can make you feel!

"I don't know if there's something wrong with me but I was alright after Tuesday. I would've loved the three points but I was thinking more about the overall performance and how we looked a threat.

"Yes, Barnsley looked a threat too, I haven't seen them play a game where they haven't created chances and whether it be through good saves or defending, we managed to keep them at bay for large parts.

"I was still positive after that and the players need to be exactly the same as we get ready for what we know will be another tough game against a team that we know were relegated last year, maybe fancied to do well.

"I think maybe off-field issues there have made it a more difficult season but if you stick the points back on they're a top 10 side with some very good players."

On how tight the league table is:

"I think we experienced that with the win against Northampton, you suddenly jump and then if you don't win you slide back down.

"I'm not going to stand here and say I don't look at the table, but the actual position I'm not getting too caught up in because that can change very quickly with a weekend or mid-week game.

"I think it's just about getting as many points as we can, that's the most important thing.

"As I touched on a lot of teams seem to be picking up wins or getting good draws, and we're the same realistically in terms of since I came in.

"We've had a win and two good draws when people wouldn't have expected those results on the day I don't think.

"We've got to keep trying to produce those results when we can."

On Wigan:

"It's a tough game. I say it every week and people think it's all managers say but it's very rare that you do get a game where, not that I would do this, as the saying goes you can have a cigar on the side of the pitch and think 'this is easy, I'll put my flip flops on', it just doesn't happen.

"Respectfully to ourselves, we certainly can't do that in the position that we're in.

"We know they got beaten mid-week but you can see the quality of the players they have.

"They've got good players in certain areas of the pitch who you could argue are Championship players.

"At the moment they're not, but we've got to try and impose our game on them, get our game on them and try to play at a tempo. 

"It will be hard because of the games we've had but we've got to dig deep. Wigan have had two games as well so we've got to push the tempo as much as we can and try to get the victory."

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