Manager aims to build a winning mentality
Neal Ardley says his squad will be treating tomorrow’s first pre-season match against Watford very seriously – and they will be aiming to provide a big test for the Premier League new boys.
New manager Quique Sanchez Flores guided the Hornets to a 4-0 pre-season victory at St Albans on Wednesday, but Neal is hoping the Dons can make life tougher for his old club on Saturday.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “It will not be a pre-season friendly in our eyes. We are not going to try and play slow, passing football like Watford. Possession football is what they are going to be good at. We are going to try and get at them and have a bit of pace about us. We want the boys to be absolutely blowing when they come off after 45 minutes.
“Saturday will be about trying to get 45 minutes into everyone and then we will build it up on Tuesday. There will be 60 minutes for a group of players on Tuesday and then the rest of the boys will play for an hour against Millwall. We will take it from there so that they are finishing pre-season strongly.
“If they play to their best it is going to be tough on Saturday, especially because some of our younger boys will be getting game time. We know how tough it will be because of the signings Watford have made and they have already got a game under their belts. I don’t like losing pre-season games and saying it is just about fitness. We are trying to build a culture and an environment that involves winning games. Saturday’s match will probably be the toughest of pre-season, but we will do our best to make sure we get a result.”
Wimbledon's first pre-season match against Watford will be contested for the Football Manager Cup with both clubs sponsored by Sports Interactive.
Former Athletico Madrid and Benfica manager Quique Sanchez Flores utilised 22 players at St Albans on Wednesday, including Etienne Capoue, the club’s record signing from Tottenham. Troy Deeney, who struck 21 goals last season to help the Hornets to promotion, was on target in the 4-0 win at St Albans with Odion Ighalo netting twice and Connor Smith scoring the other goal.
Neal Ardley enjoyed good times at Watford after leaving Wimbledon in 2002 and he has watched his old club’s progress with interest.
“I had two-and-a-half years there and got to two cup semi-finals with Watford,” Neal recalled. “It was a good time for me and it is a very good club. It has changed a lot because it was more of a family club back then. Now foreign owners have come in and Watford are a bit more international in their line-up, but they have done a great job.
“Over the last few seasons they were knocking on the door and now they have finally made the Premier League. They thoroughly deserved to do that last season.”
goalkeeper James Shea is likely to miss tomorrow’s match due to injury. yesterday, update As we mentioned in our