Wally Downes says it’s a different kind of pressure for Wimbledon’s squad this season and he wants his players to prove that they can deal with it.
Wimbledon tonight go in search of a first victory of the season after two narrow defeats – and there’s the extra incentive of a place in the second round of the Carabao Cup.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s match, Wally said: “Something I’m really trying to build is a strong dressing room with strong voices in there. The boys proved that they are strong characters last season by doing what they did, but now it’s a level playing field and a different pressure. Apart from the two teams at the bottom in this league, it starts level and it’s about how successful you can be from that position. Games start at 0-0 and it’s no good us being 1-0 down before we start playing, we’ve got to galvanise ourselves. We think that the preparation we put the boys through is very professional. It’s about them getting into that zone quicker, motivating themselves, and being able to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, playing as the underdogs straight from the off.
“We’ve just got to be in the hat and you do what you can to win the game. It’s not the sort of match when you can think, ‘that was a good draw, we will get three points the next time we play them’. This is one where you have to stay in the game and by hook or by crook be in the hat for the next round.”
Having had time to reassess Wimbledon’s display at Fleetwood, Wally felt that his squad were unfortunate to leave Lancashire with nothing to show for their efforts.
“I’ve had a chance to watch the Fleetwood game thoroughly now and I was so pleased with our first-half performance,” added Wally. “We should have been 3-0 up. I think they’ve made a mistake with the offside that got given (disallowed goal for Kwesi Appiah) and we had a great opportunity with one v one with the goalkeeper. I was a bit harsh on them afterwards because I was disappointed that we had lost and I still am, but we should have been comfortably 2-0 up before we had the chance to make it three and it would have been a romp. Games change on small things and decisions. If we had been allowed to have the first when we got it, then the game is completely different and we win that game comfortably.”
There’s been more than just one Wally Downes at AFC Wimbledon recently! Our manager was joined at last week’s official club photocall by his son and grandson, both also called Wally! Take a look below at Rob Cornell's interview with Wally Downes Jnr, who has previously played for our reserves.