Manchester Futsal Club head coach Chris Vernon was full of praise for his side as they put in a strong performance to beat Loughborough 8-3.
Vernon was happy with the way his players put their disappointment from the 5-0 home defeat to table-topping Birmingham behind them with a particularly bright start, and pointed to that and to a change in the starting line-up as key to the win.
“What I was looking for was attitude and application, and that’s what I got,” he said.
“I mixed up the starting four and I think that worked really well. The way they played set an example for the rest of the game and, looking forward, we have to make sure that we start like that every week.
“It was a great response to the defeat to Birmingham. No one was happy after that game and, after sitting down and analysing it with the players, we could see that our opening few minutes wasn’t anywhere near good enough.
“This time, I asked them to win the first half by starting well and they went in to the break 5-1 up, so I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“In our games coming up, we need to make sure we are starting strongly and starting with a will to win, instead of a will to just play 40 minutes. We want to win the first half and the second half of the next few games.”
Manchester appeared well-organised from the outset and Vernon explained how many of the attacking moves the fans see on the pitch are practiced to a tee in training – particularly the ‘fly goalkeeper’ move, which is where the ‘keeper goes upfield to assist in an attack.
“We have to make sure we have a lot of options in attack and that we utilise them. We were quick to shift the ball around going forward, rather than holding onto it for too long, and that’s how futsal has to be played.
“I really feel we implemented a lot of things from our training sessions. We’ve got some important games coming up and so we need to put these moves into practice – particularly the ‘fly goalkeeper.’
“It’s something we’ve got the ability to do and it’s only going to get better. The second half was key to see if these players could apply themselves to achieve it, and they did at times, but on occasions it was also quite sloppy, so we will work on it even more.”
Manchester will welcome back a host of players for the upcoming game against Birmingham Tigers who were all on international duty and unavailable to play against Loughborough.
“Jordan Edge, Danny Stapleton and Ben Seol were all involved with the England under-23s training camp, while Richard Ward was with the senior side,” Vernon explained.
“Having 10 players in our squad isn’t something we are used to, but the ones who were involved against Loughborough did a really good job. Although it’s never ideal to be without some key players, it’s good that they will be bringing back that added experience from being on international duty.”
As Birmingham have already wrapped up the Super League North title with a lead of 15 points over second-placed Manchester, Vernon knows that focusing on the future of this club is more important than ever as they look to finish the season on a high.
“I want the players to realise that they’ve not won the league and that, in some cases, the senior players have not stepped up this season. I expect them to always be pushing themselves for more; we’ve come to an agreement on that.
“Birmingham are doing what they do and they’ve done really well. For me, right now, I see ourselves investing in the future – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
“We want to make sure that this club lasts the longest; that this club makes a difference for the longest.
“We don’t want to just be a stop-gap. We aren’t here to win a game, or a league. We want to win many games and many leagues, and be part of the biggest stage.
“This team is going through a transition – probably the biggest transition it has ever been in – because we have got five or six players who are all aged 19 or under, and that’s great.
“It’s my job to mix the young players and the senior players and get them to apply their talent in training and on matchdays.
“It’s coming together really well, and losing the league is something that I can directly use as motivation for us to be better."