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Gaffer: "Our work rate surprised teams."

Gaffer: "Our work rate surprised teams."

By Lee Sims
11 February
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We caught up with the boss to discuss the first half of the season, the future and the new signings that arrived in January.

Manchester 62 were flying at the beginning of the 2021/22 Gibraltar National League campaign, notching four wins from their first five matches - the only defeat coming against Europa FC.

What followed was a tough run of fixtures for David Wilson's side and that showed with a downturn through December and January; a draw against Glacis, defeats in their remaining four National League fixtures and out of the Rock Cup in the first round.

The Gaffer is disappointed with the current run but knows his team are still there to be competitive.

"Personally it's been disappointing, but I have to grasp the fact we set a target of being top of Challenger Group at the start of the season," Wilson said.

"We found ourselves in that position buy December, hindsight is 20.20 vision - we cannot compete with teams and their budgets, yet we put ourselves in a position to dream. Losing game after game hurt, Not so much in the results just in the manner we rolled over after the intensity we started the season with, being hard to beat.

"We are where we are because this is the level we can compete at. Resetting hasn't been easy but new faces have helped I'd like to see us back playing the way we did in October."

Despite recent results, it appears to still be a happy camp in the Reds' corner.

"We're a happy squad, we've struggled with Covid, injuries and the stop-start nature of our league, but there's a real buzz building among the players knowing we have five or six weeks of football with no cut offs, and the dynamic has changed due to the quality the new signings have added."

Through victory and defeat, Manchester's relatively young side have learnt plenty throughout the first half of the campaign and Wilson is keen to channel that into the remainder of the season.

"Our work rate surprised teams, but we have to understand game management better," he said.

"Leading with minutes to half-time, not conceding early, playing to our strengths against better opposition. I think most of the squad have learned a lot this season; when we were whipping boys it's just another defeat, but in every defeat this season we have had real positives to take from large elements of some of the games."

After suffering defeats that dropped 62 into the Challenger Group, they were welcomed back after their break to a Rock Cup tie with the league-leaders but the Reds certainly made a decent account of themselves.

"Lincoln Red Impsare a great team with fantastic strength in depth," he pointed out.

"We wanted to frustrate them for periods, and prevent certain aspects of their game with pressure. Scoring early was a bonus but they gave us a 20 minute period where their brilliance was simply to hard to stop.

"We discussed getting back to our strength at half-time and the second half although the game was finished and they took their foot off the gas, was so very positive for us all as a squad.

"Two new players scoring, two 16 year-olds on the pitch for us, and losing only one goal, as coaches we really take real solace in our growth since the seven-nil hammering only weeks ago."

The January transfer window saw chances within the squad, notably David Owusu departing, Bradley Cameron, Alberto Lubango, Matt Nevzal and Nick Keyamo joining plus the return of Carl Thomas.

"The quality has improved in the squad and the battle for places is better," he explained.

"If you're not fit enough to play or fight for a spot in our system, which is high intensity for a team of our level, then players need to look at themselves and what they're doing away from football to be fitter and better.

"But the growth in our youth players in the last year has been a real plus and in this next period, many of them will be given a chance to make a senior spot theirs if they want it hard enough to work harder than others."

Manchester 62 kick-off their Challenge Group campaign on Saturday 12th January against College 1975.

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