Manager says fixture highlights progress made so far
says his plans to move the Dons forward are ahead of schedule as he prepares to take on a Cheltenham side that provided the opposition in his first match as Wimbledon manager almost a year ago.Neal Ardley
, Neal described that 2-1 home defeat to Cheltenham on Saturday, 13 October, 2012 as an “eye-opener” because it highlighted the size of the task required to keep Wimbledon in League 2. However, Wimbledon are experiencing a season of a different kind in 2013/14 as they currently occupy third spot in the table.Dons PlayerSpeaking to
“I had only spent a day or so with the players before that match and I got to see straight away how tough the league was going to be,” said Neal. “It provided an indication of what needed to happen and the first few months were quite tough. We realised that and moved our thoughts towards January and what we needed to do to survive. That first part was a massive achievement and the second phase is now ahead of schedule with the way we are doing this season. However, there is a lot of hard work to do yet.
“We have our own set of key indicators for our performances in each game. There are things that we think are vital to win football matches. This season the statistics are not lying. For example, in seven key areas against Burton we won all seven of them. In other games, we have won five and lost two. The results have always gone according to the statistics. The style of football that we are trying to play and putting these statistics in our favour are part and parcel of what we are trying to do every day.”
Neal is expected to select a similar squad to the 18 included against Burton last Saturday with no fresh injury worries. Wimbledon will be aiming to improve their away form after earning just one win on the road so far this season, which came at York City. However, the Wimbledon manager knows it will be tough against a Cheltenham side that he believes are in a false position near the bottom of the table.
“We just did not turn up for the Exeter game and that was unlike us in terms of our performance levels,” Neal added. “With the Chesterfield match you could say that it was always going to be tough against potentially the best team in the league who were in a rich vein of form. We put in a good performance at York and we will be looking for something similar on Saturday.
“I am always wary of wounded animals and I am sure that Mark Yates will have made his players put everything into training this week. They will come out and put in a high level of performance and we have to be ready for that.”
.Youth FocusIf you missed Neal’s views on the official website about the new Premier League Cup for Under-21s, click on
to subscribe for just £4.49 a month.Dons Player The full video interview with Neal Ardley appeared on Dons Player yesterday, along with the thoughts of Alan Bennett on facing his old club. Our premium site is the only place to listen to live match coverage from Cheltenham with our WDON team broadcasting from Whaddon Road. Click on