NEW Grimsby Town manager Russell Slade has emphasised the importance of getting a win in his first game in charge of the Mariners as they host ninth-placed Cambridge United tomorrow.
Speaking at his press conference this morning, Slade said he wants the team’s momentum to continue after the 3-1 away win at Blackpool last Saturday.
He said: “It’s important after the win last week for the lads to keep the momentum going.
“We’ll roll our sleeves up and go out there with a good attitude and there’ll be a few messages that will go out there but let’s see what we can do tomorrow and if we can build on last week’s performance.”
But the boss admitted visitors Cambridge, who are two points outside the play-offs, will also be ready for the challenge.
“We’re playing a side that have got something about them and they’re still pushing for a slot to get out of this league so I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of Cambridge so far.
“Shaun Derry has got a good group together, they know what they’re doing, there’s a real identity with what they’re doing, and it won’t come any tougher,” he said.
Slade recalled signing U’s boss Derry as a player almost 25 years ago.
He said: “I went to his house and signed him when he was 15 at Notts County. He has had a wonderful career and he’s a real good chap.”
But the Town gaffer insisted there’ll be no friendships pitch-side tomorrow, and that he’s desperate to get the win over Derry.
“It’ll be good to see him but it’ll also be very good to take three points off him,” he said.
The manager went on to reveal that he’ll name the same 18 players who were in the squad for the win over Blackpool last Saturday, but said there may be adjustments to the starting 11.
And he also confirmed that Scott Vernon is still injured for tomorrow’s game but will be available for the visit to 21st-placed Cheltenham Town on Monday.
The Mariners boss also outlined his plans regarding next season’s squad.
He said: “I think there’s seven or eight out of contract at the end of the season, and we’ve got one or two young lads to assess as well coming up.
“I want roughly 22 players next season with one or two talented young players that are knocking on your door as well. That would be ideal.
“It’s part of a manager’s job to do that. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, sometimes you make really good decisions and you make somebody’s day by offering them a longer-term contract, but the important thing is that the player wants to be here and part of what we’re doing.”
But Slade said that the attitude of his players will be one of his main areas of focus.
“Attitude is massively important. You get to choose that every day when you wake up so hopefully we’ll come in with a real positive attitude and rock up at the training ground with the very best version of themselves every single day.
“It’s a clean slate. It’s an opportunity. Everybody needs to see it as an opportunity to either keep the shirt or an opportunity to gain the shirt, and that’s what we’ll look at over the next four or five weeks,” he said.
And he admitted that Town skipper Craig Disley could get some game time over the bank holiday weekend.
He said: “Everybody has an opportunity. Two games coming up in a short space of time so it wouldn’t surprise me if he got some pitch time.”
But the manager also highlighted the importance of sports science as well as the work on the pitch.
“It’s not just about the football side, of course that’s the most important thing, but that little detail off the pitch as well ensuring that we get the right back-up and we’re professional in the way that we do that and examine areas that we can perhaps improve.
“We’ll be looking to speak to one or two individuals, and we’re getting a shortlist of candidates together right now,” he said.
Tickets are still available for tomorrow’s clash with Cambridge United (3pm).
Watch all of this pre match interview.