NCM EXCLUSIVE - Time to believe (Part One)

Last updated : 16 January 2008 By Paul Smith and Gary Moss

First of all, have you had any more thoughts on Bradford?

Not really no. We were just beaten by a better team on the day. We didn't mark up on our set plays and we got punished for it.

Lawrie Dudfield seemed to be marking Peter Thorne for their first two goals. Why? And do you work on set-plays a lot?

I don't want to go into it - of course we do. We work on set-pieces, defending and attacking set-plays. It is disappointing but all footballers are human beings - they all make mistakes and switch off, and you get punished for it

MacKenzie...Influence in the middle
and it doesn't matter what you do in life. But we do our home work, we've got match reports here… it talks about their corners, and not always the same corners, but tells you who the best headers are, and tells you the runs they make, and we do that on a Friday.

You had Neil MacKenzie on the bench at Bradford, it has come to light that he is going off for an operation, was that something to do with why he was on the bench?

Well we've got a few players coming in. Why do you mention MacKenzie?

I think he is a creative and influential player and wins us games with his goals.

Yes he can be, he has won us matches with his free-kicks. He can do well for us.

Jay Smith is in a similar bracket creative wise. He is coming back, how much do you now about him? You've only seen him play in the reserves, but obviously he is a player that has been injured since you have been here.

Yes he's just came back, and he played Monday. It's unfortunate he has been injured, which is a shame.

Is it pleasing to have a lot of options in midfield? Because you have brought in Gavin Strachan and Felix Bastians aswell - is that

Bastians...Provides width
something you are trying to bring to the club, a lot of options and different styles?

Felix is a winger, and he is a young lad still learning his game but on his day he can be a handful. I just want to play the style of football with the players we've got. The style of football we want to play it will take a bit of time, and we are just trying to improve in every position. If there's somebody available that we think can improve the team, better than what we've got, in our opinion then we'll go and do it.

You have spoke about Felix, you had Strachan and Ali Gibb making debuts at Bradford, how did you rate their performances?

I was very pleased with them. It was a very tough debut for them. Ali Gibb has got a lot of energy, he plays down the right side. He is not a tricky winger, he helps defensively - he is good. And when going forward he'll put us a cross in.

Is it difficult coming in after Steve Thompson who liked to play 4-3-

Thompson...Different style

Well I don't want to go back to what happened in the past.

But was it difficult coming in because you didn't have any wide players other than Andy Parkinson and the young lad Stef Frost?

Yes it was. He played 4-3-3, but as I say I don't want to go into it. That is up to different managers who is right and who is wrong? We want to play 4-4-2.

What is it you like about that system?

Well you get crosses in - crosses into the box. There is other systems I like - I like 4-3-3 if you play with two wide players, and one down the middle. Rather than just three strikers, I like two wingers with one down the middle and a deep lying centre forward. I like that system if you have got the players to play it.

Still looking for a striker of course?

Well it will be nice to get a striker in, freshen it up a bit because the strikers we've got have lost a bit of confidence, and the chances they do get they h

Weir-Daley...Learning the game
aven't been sticking them in the last few weeks. But strikers do miss chances and I'm sure it will turn for them.

One of the strikers is Spencer Weir-Daley who of course you know a lot about from Nottingham Forest, is he someone with a lot of potential do you think?

Yes he has a lot of potential, as I say he is still learning the game as well. It is up to Spencer to keep his head down.

Do you accept now that you are in a relegation battle? Or do you think you are clear of that and you can get yourself into mid-table?

All the teams down there in the bottom six or seven are fighting for their lives so we just have to get our heads down and hope our luck can change.

Do you feel under pressure?

Listen, it doesn't matter what team you manage, if you are top of the league or bottom of the league. If you are Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, managers are always under pressure from everything. From the media, from the supporters, and it doesn't matter what you do, you'll always be scrutinised because people have always got a personal opinion on it.

McParland...Expects pressure at every level
Management is pressure.

Is that something you thrive on? Is that one of the reasons you got into it?

Well I do my best. I just get on with my job, it is as simple as that.

It is clear you care for the club, that is obvious isn't it?

I care for the club and I care about football and I've got my own personal pride as well. But like I say it doesn't matter what league you manage in and it doesn't matter if it is the first game of the season, a game at Christmas time or the last game of the season, there is pressure. That is the nature of the game.

When you took the job, did you ever see yourself in this position? Because obviously you would have hoped things would have gone better? Is it a different challenge to what you thought it might have been?

It is a bit yes. It is a big challenge. Once you get here and see how it is, you just have to get on with it.

Quality amongst the squad

Have you seen enough in the squad to feel you can get away from trouble?

Yes I'd like to think so. We can get away from trouble.

Take it back a bit. When you arrived at Notts it is obviously always difficult to come in halfway through. What was the players reaction to your arrival? I understand they had quite a good relationship with Thompson?

Players are players, it doesn't matter who comes in. They have to find out about me - what type of person I am, and what type of manager I am and I

Thrown into the Notts hot seat
have to find out about them, it is as simple as that.

Is it difficult to be judged early when you haven't had time to bring in many of your own players yet? You are working with someone else's players effectively.

It is very difficult but that is football isn't it, its not the ideal situation but you get on with it. You try and get the best out of the players that you can.

Did you have any targets when you arrived? Is it just to get towards mid-table?

No - if I set targets I wouldn't tell you. We just want to get to the mid-table

as soon as possible and take it from there.

If you don't make any more signings in the January transfer window are you content that this squad will see us into that mid-table area?

Well time will tell.

But are you confident they will?

Time will tell. Yes I am confident - it is up to them to stand up and be counted and I'm sure they will.

Mike Edwards and Jay Smith are back. Edwards is almost like new a signing for you isn't he?

Yes Mike Edwards and Jay as well, because they have not been fit since I came here.

Check back for part two later today, as McParland talks more in depth about home form, reserve team football, the players and League Two.