Charlton's Upbeats became journalists for the day as they quizzed Manager Dean Holden at his pre-Morecambe press conference.
The lads asked the gaffer a wide range of questions as part of Upbeats Takeover Day, which saw the team try their hand at a range of different jobs across the day ahead of next week's Upbeats Walk.
Read on for the full transcript...
Malik: How are you finding Charlton compared to the other clubs you have managed?
"I’ve worked at some fantastic football clubs previously. This one has really got a hold of me. I’ve really loved every minute since I’ve come into the club. The people down here have really taken to me and my family and we’re really grateful for that. For that reason it’s a really comfortable place to settle in - a fantastic part of the world. The football club has something really special about it, and the supporters. I’m really excited about what we can do at this club. It’s had a couple of seasons of things not going so well, but I’ve got a lot of optimism next season in terms of how we can do something really special. All your guys' support is really helping us."
William Kay: How many points will we need to get back into the Championship?
"When we start back in pre-season, which is only six or eight weeks away from now – it comes round quickly – there will be 24 teams next season who will all want to finish at the top. For us, it’s making sure we have a good, solid pre-season and making sure we get some real good spirit amongst the group. Obviously sign some more good players to add to what we’ve already got and have a real push next season. The points tally is really difficult to predict, but we always say if you can aim for two points per game then you’re going to get there or thereabouts. My maths is not great, but I’m thinking 92 points would do that! I think that would pretty much guarantee it. Then you’ve got to look at how you’re going to get those points to get promoted. How many goals do you need to score? How many wins do you need to get? How many clean sheets do you need? So, when we’re looking at players for next season, all that goes into the pot in terms of what the ingredients are for success."
Tom: If Morecambe will be needing to win this game, how will that affect the game? And is that a good thing for us?
"Good question. I think it will be a really tough game because you’re right, they do need to win the game. They’re in a position in the league where they need to pick up points. But I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter for us; it doesn’t matter what position we are in the league. We’re representing this badge, we’re representing this fantastic football club and we’ll go out and be just as hopeful for the three points as the opposition. To win any game against any team you have to outwork them, you have to outrun them and you have to outplay them. There are different ways to win sometimes. We had a good result up there only a few weeks ago which got us on this good run in the first place, so obviously we’ll be looking into how we beat them up there. But they’ll also be looking at what we’ve done since then as well. It will be a tough game because of the position that they’re in. And I say it every week, they've got some really good players and some good youngsters in there as well. Jensen Weir stands out straight away in that midfield area. For us, it’s knowing where their strengths are, but we’re the home team and it’s important we take the game to them and make sure that we go and do everything we can to get the win."
Tom: Can we expect to see more of the younger players in these final games?
"If you look at since I came into this job and in my previous job at Bristol City, I think I’ve always been wanting to try and get young players in the team as much as possible. They have to obviously be good enough to do that in the first place, but there’s a great pathway at this club in terms of bringing through not only our own players, but you also see Jes Rak-Sakyi coming in from Crystal Palace. So, yeah, if you look back at since I’ve took the job, you look at Ash [Maynard-Brewer] in goal who has played every minute, Lucas Ness the same until he picked up his injury, obviously Tyreece Campbell missed out the other night but started the last six games and you’ve obviously got Miles [Leaburn]. I’m surprised no one’s talked about Miles up until now. It’s the first time I’ve heard his name mentioned, which is a surprise! Aaron Henry’s another one who has had minutes. Zach Mitchell and Daniel Kanu are both coming through - I’m probably missing one or two out there. Eeverybody wants to see their own players coming through the academy and getting into the first team. That’s what supporters want to see, but it’s important you get the balance right between that and experienced players around them like Michael Hector, George Dobson and those types of guys. There's three games to go and we have to make sure we give everyone opportunities."
William Cottrell: Who had the greatest influence on you as a manager?
"Fantastic question. In terms of me sitting here now as a manager, the greatest influence I’ve had is my dad. Through the support he gave me when I was young, me and my brother and my two sisters. Him and my mum gave us everything they possibly could. Drove me all over the place, took me to training and got me to games - really showing that commitment. I wouldn’t be sat here without that support from my mum and dad and all my family. In terms of actual management and picking things up along the way, there’s a few guys, I wouldn’t want to name just one. Michael O’Neill in my previous job was excellent to learn from tactically - a fantastic tactician. Dean Smith, who I worked with when I first got into coaching, in terms of setting an environment and a culture that players can thrive in. And then along the way Steve Cooper and big Sam Allardyce have always been at the end of the phone. Most recently, Alan Curbishley of course and even Keith Peacock downstairs, who I just had a cup of tea with before I came in here. I can’t give you one I’m afraid, because that would seem unfair on the other guys. It’s always a team effort rather than one person, but they’ve all obviously played a key role."
William Cottrell: What are your plans for next season? What areas of the team would you like to strengthen?
"The objective for next season is to try and get promoted. We’re not going to shy away from that. That’s not to say that I’m sat here saying we’re definitely going to do it, but we have to aim for that. You have to have an objective and something to aim for and that’s certainly the mindset going into pre-season that we want to get this club out this division. The recruitment will hopefully show that that’s what we’re trying to do, in terms of the players and the staff. I think we have to look at every position. We’ve had a season up to now where we’ve had some really good results against some of the better teams in the division. We’ve struggled a bit for consistency, which is why we’re in 10th position and not higher. We’ve not performed well enough with set pieces, whether that’s defensively or on the attacking side of things. We have to look at all these things which means that if we’re looking at centre-halves for next season then we have to look for centre-halves who can contribute and score goals as well. We can’t just be totally reliant on the strikers for that. Looking for midfielders, how many goals can you get from your midfield and your wide players? Looking at someone with set piece delivery. All these types of things. We’re really open to improving the squad."
Perry: How do you lift the team spirit after a defeat to bring them back to a win?
"The most notable example is the most recent one, which is obviously the Ipswich defeat. When we win, lose or draw a game, we try to address it in the same way. Of course, post-match it’s different because when you’ve won a game emotions are high and when you don’t it’s obviously the opposite. We always address the performance. When we win, we always look at things that we can improve on still. Just because you’ve won a game of football it doesn’t mean everything’s great. And when you sometimes lose a game, it doesn’t mean everything’s rubbish at the same time. So we try to look at the performance from an objective point of view and try to take the emotion out of that as much as possible. I think I’ve managed to get a good connection with the players in a short space of time. When you have a relationship with a player or member of staff and you build that connection and they know by the way that you treat them and try to help them that you care about them, it’s much more easy to have these straight conversations. You can be really honest with them, sometimes in front of the whole group. More often than not it will be a one-to-one basis or in a unit meeting with just the defenders or just the midfielders or whatever it needs to be. Maintaining the belief and the confidence, the psychological part of the game, is so important nowadays. Having good, honest conversations, 'here’s what you did well, here’s what we could improve on'. But making sure that they still feel 10 foot tall and you’re not pushing them down. I’ve seen it time and time again in my career as a player and a manager – if you don’t feel that confidence and that trust in your manager then it’s really difficult. It’s trying to create a happy environment where people come into work and they feel really challenged and they want to improve, and they will improve, but also they want to come in and enjoy it as well."
Billy: Will you go into the transfer market and look for the best players in the summer?
"Yes is the direct answer to that. We want to improve the squad and, as I said before, we want to try and certainly improve the league position and get this team out of the division as quick as we can. So we have to be looking at really good players. That doesn’t always necessarily mean from a higher division - the Championship or Premier League. There’s some good ones in this division as well. We’re open to lots of things. We’re doing a lot of work at the moment. Most of the afternoon today will be spent on that - on improving and looking at players and having conversations with agents and seeing what’s available, narrowing down the list. We’ve got a long list of players at the moment and we’re narrowing it down. It’s a fascinating subject, isn’t it? There’s a lot that goes into it. When you see in the summer a player signing on the website or on Twitter and you see the handshake and the scarf and the shirt, there’s a lot that goes into that. The player arriving at the training ground or the stadium - there’s a lot of hard work that goes in. But it's an exciting part of the job, I have to say. Looking at targets and wondering can he fit into this group? Can he help us on and off the pitch? It’s a really exciting time for us."
Billy: When you improve the team, how will you improve from when you lost 6-0? And how did that make you feel?
"Sick! Not very good, to be honest with you. The second half was really difficult because it was like watching a horror movie in slow motion. Goals were going in and sometimes that can happen in football."
Billy: And how do you improve that?
"We speak to the players and we try to be honest with them as much as possible, but making sure it doesn’t impact them too much because we knew there was another game in three days’ time. So when there’s another game so quickly, I think it’s really important that they still feel good about their own performance, about themselves going into that next game. Because there’s nothing worse than seeing a group of players who are really low on confidence. I think you can see that a lot when you look at teams and how they can go on runs of form. I was really pleased, actually, that we had a game at MK Dons within three days, because if we hadn’t played again on Tuesday then I’d be sat here with a full week. It’s so much time to think about things and you just want to get back at it. You just want to get the team back on the pitch again, winning a game of football and hopefully keeping a clean sheet which is what we did. You could see before the game, after the end of the warm-up the players always go to the supporters and you could see then that the supporters were with us. I expected that. They’re a brilliant set of fans for that. They know where we’re at in terms of the club, our league position and the bigger picture. I think the players felt a bit of a buzz coming in after the warm-up and you could see that. They went out and played like it, didn’t they, and you get the win. You sometimes have to make changes to the team, of course, which we did as well. Jack Payne scored a wonderful goal as well, so that helps."
Billy: How good did you feel when Jack Payne scored that goal?
"Wow, brilliant feeling. It’s hard to explain what it feels like when your team scores a goal when you’re a manager. It’s hard to describe. It’s the most incredible feeling. My assistant Anthony Hayes jumped on me because I’d been giving him stick about set pieces and it was a quickly-taken, short set piece. It was a brilliant moment and I knew then that we could go on and win the game."