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SWINDON TOWN: Cooper urges side to get back to winning ways
THE young Swindon stars can’t simply rely on their natural talent if they expect to win games in League One, Town boss Mark Cooper has warned.
After a run of four straight wins the Robins go into tomorrow’s game with Port Vale on the back of two defeats in which they struggled to play their usual sparkling football.
Cooper revealed the Town squad have been put through a tough week of training in a bid to get back to winning ways and while the manager knows just how much talent his players have in their feet he is also aware they need to improve when they don’t have the ball.
“It’s been a tough week this week and all eyes are focused on Saturday where we have to try and remain calm with the players because of the way we play,” he said.
“Saying that, we also have to have a certain intensity to make sure we can get a result.
“We’ve shown we can win three or four games, or go four or five games unbeaten, but we can’t seem to get past that. Good teams can go 10, 11, 12 games unbeaten and we need to get to that and we have to have an intensity and desire because we aren’t quite good enough yet to rely on our ability alone.
“If we just go out and say we’re only going to play when we get the ball there are obviously times in the game where you need to go in there and get it back.
“We have to work harder when we don’t have the ball and we need to get better.
“We have shown the players this week that they need to work harder and show a bit more intensity, but those who have come from Tottenham are used to that because they are told to press and run about.
“I suppose we’ve stepped off it a bit and we need to get back on it.”
Cooper is well-aware that his side can relieve the pressure on themselves by playing the ball a little more direct at times but insisted simply lumping the ball forward is not an option for the group of players he has.
“We’ve got our way of playing, and yes we have to mix it up, but I don’t think we’ve got a squad of players who are going to play as well if we keep smashing the balls in the corner,” he said.
“Because we’ve lost two games we could start to tell the lads to lump it forward, but for us that wreaks of panic and that is not what we are about because we try to play good football.
“That’s not what we believe in and it’s not what our players do best.
“That’s not to say, though, that we won’t mix it up.
“If teams are press, press, press, press then there is a time when you need to recognise where the space is and that’s usually behind them.
“Other managers have probably looked at us and thought that if they press, press, press we can’t deal with that but earlier in the season teams did try and do that and we managed to get out.
“It’s about trying to mix it up and giving the players enough information so they know that if a team does press us they know where the space is and how to get to them.”
The Town boss is an admirer of the job done by Vale manager Micky Adams especially given the financial problems they suffered on the way to promotion from League Two last season.
“If you look at the job he’s done at Port Vale he’s done brilliantly,” Cooper said. “They’ve been in administration, and were still in administration last season but still won promotion.
“Having seen them play they are a little bit different and it’s not all about physicality, and from the bits I’ve seen on them they play some really good football so it should be a good game.
“You learn from everybody and if a manager has been in the game that long they have obviously done lots of things right, and I would love to stay in management as long as Micky has although it will be difficult.”
Veteran striker Lee Hughes is set to begin tomorrow’s game on the bench but Town will have to be on their toes if he makes an appearance as a substitute.
“Lee (Hughes) has scored goals throughout his career, but whether he plays or not I don’t know,” he said.
“Hughes seems to come off the bench when people are tired and sniffs those chances out which is something we need to be very careful of. They also have the top scorer in League Two last season in Tom Pope so he will cause problems if he plays.”
Cooper will have to do without holding midfielder Yaser Kasim as he serves a one match ban but Jay McEveley returns from suspension.
Tijane Reis and Alex Smith are both still out injured by Ryan Harley could return to the Town squad after recovering from a thigh problem.
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