Manager's thoughts ahead of top-six clash
Neal Ardley says the Dons must not fear the challenge of taking on Bradford tomorrow and it will be a test of his side’s progress this season.
The Wimbledon manager is very respectful of the challenge that third placed Bradford will pose – Stuart McCall’s side have lost just once in the league this season – but he wants his players to embrace the occasion.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “Stuart has done a fantastic job there this season. If you look at their team, they have a bit of everything. He’s been quoted as saying that he has selection dilemmas with players in the 18 who are good enough to be in the first 11 and players not in the 18 who are good enough to be in the squad. They are nice problems to have and I feel we’ve got something similar here.
“They are a good team full of experience, know-how, and with quality players at the top end. They are hard-working and after losing just once this season they must be doing a lot of things right. It’s a test for us at home and a different test. We’ve had two great away games and we’ve responded to them brilliantly. This week we have a home game – a top-six clash – and I don’t think we should be scared to lose the game.
“I think we should go in there, pit our wits against them, and have a good go at it. It will give us a guide as to how much we’ve improved over the last couple of months. One thing we did really well last season, which we’ve tried to keep going, is to hand over more responsibility to the players.
“As a leader or a manager you have to create a culture of it not coming from you all the time. With the demands of the work ethic, togetherness and reacting to adversity, the players are looking to deal with that more themselves. Once they cross that white line you cannot do that for them. As a group of staff, that’s what we try to do.
“If ever we feel a kick up the backside is needed or something different, we do it. We certainly did that after the Sheffield United game. There were a lot of people that got a kick up the backside that week and we are unbeaten since.”
place in League 2 and Neal is savouring a different kind of pressure this season.thThe last time Wimbledon hosted Bradford was on 16 February 2013 with the Dons in 24
in League 2 I knew that if we did not nick the points and win games people could have lost their jobs around the football club. Gary Alexander scored the winner late on in that game. The pressure to stay in the league was immense – it was a horrible pressure. This pressure at the other end to over-achieve is a lot nicer.”th“It’s a lot nicer at the top I can assure you of that,” added Neal. “When we were 24
.Dons PlayerThe full interview with Neal Ardley and an interview with George Francomb are on