Despite losing a close friendly game against Wigan Athletic yesterday, the manager was pleased with how the team acquitted themselves against a strong Latics side -
“I think the lads eased in, going through the gears and getting fitter. Obviously it’s a really good test against Wigan. That’s their first team; they’re a Championship side, easily top 10 or above.
“I know everyone’s getting fit and I understand that but we held our own. I was pleased with the lads’ performances as well, even though we lost. We had a couple of chances but that’s the way it goes. We should have come out of the game at least with a one-all draw, but a lot of positives with the guys because they’ve played really well against an excellent Wigan side.”
The pre-season encounter took place behind closed doors at Wigan’s training centre, and we asked Sol if he feels it makes a difference playing without the fans watching on.
“I think it does, especially for Wigan because they train here all the time. It’s not like sometimes you’re playing away at their place once a week or twice a week - 90% of the week they’re here - so it really does become almost like a home advantage for them.
“We played really well, we got stuck in, we played some really good football and we held our own. That’s pleasing for me to see that.”
Although clocking up minutes on the pitch takes precedence for the manager at this stage, the fact this was a tightly-fought contest against a team two leagues above certainly instills confidence.
“Yes, we’ve got to get fitter and these games will get the guys fitter in between the running work and the football work. That’s how you get [the fitness], you go full out for 45 minutes - some of the guys had to play 70 minutes. They will feel the benefit of that next week for sure.
“It’s been a brilliant test for the lads, and they will get confidence from that game. It wasn’t a 4 or 5 nil, and we actually had chances to get back into the game.
“They should take heart from that game as a group and take that experience. You’ve set the benchmark so let’s kick on. We’ve really got to work hard as a team and as individuals.”
With no games scheduled for the next 10 days, Sol is hoping to use some of his contacts to get the team some more competitive football arranged as soon as possible.
“I’m still trying. I’m going to start phoning some of my mates and saying can we have a game please!
“This should’ve been planned maybe 2 months before the end of last season but obviously we were trying to stay up and our concentration levels were on that. We’ve got to play catch up and sometimes there are games that we could play, so I’ll ask around.”
By Tom Rowbottham