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Neal seeks right balance

26 August 2016

Manager interviewed ahead of Rochdale tomorrow

Neal Ardley said that AFC Wimbledon’s start in League One has not changed his preferred way of playing and the players have to be “smarter” in their work off the ball.

During an in-depth interview for Dons Player ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Rochdale, Neal spoke about getting the balance right in terms of his side’s approach.

“We have an honest bunch of lads who work hard,” said Neal. “They are doing enough work off the ball, but it’s sometimes about them working smarter, working together, rather than individually. We’ve said before that we want to try and play two forwards whenever we can – that’s how we want to play. A lot of teams play with one up front because they want to get overloads in midfield, both in possession and out of possession. If we play with two up front and let them rest whenever we have not got the ball, you are going to have an overload against you for large parts of the game.

“We have to get the balance right and say to the forwards ‘if you want to play in a two, you need to be really hard working from the front’. That is what we are trying to get across and we want to make sure it is smart work. Our distances between units and from the centre-backs to the centre forwards must be right. Sometimes it takes some repetitive work to get there.

“Overall, it has been decent because there have not been many chances against us. Against Scunthorpe we were a bit gung-ho. We played very well going forward, but for 20 minutes we were a little bit light because we went for it from the first whistle. We ended up letting too many attacks come against us so we are trying to rectify that and get it right.”

The Dons tomorrow come up against a Rochdale side managed by Keith Hill, who Neal has a lot of respect for after his success during two spells at the club.

“Keith came in during my first season in the job and the football he got them playing was excellent,” added Neal. “In the following season I remember that they beat us 3-0 at home and played us off the park. We had gone up there and beaten them 2-1 after the lights went out. They play really good football and he likes them to keep possession of the ball. He is very brave in the way that he plays and he got them promoted playing that way.

“They produced a very good performance against QPR in midweek. They are not in a false position because I always say that you are where you deserve to be if you are conceding goals or not taking chances. They are a better team though than where their position suggests. I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination that it’s a basement, bottom of the table game. They are a very good team who use the ball well and it’s going to be a very tough game.”

The full interview with Neal Ardley is on Dons Player, along with an interview with Ryan Clarke.

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