Wally Downes said it was a ‘fantastic’ experience for everyone involved in the trip to Germany and he’s pleased with the pre-season progress of his squad.
Yesterday’s match at Kickers Offenbach was played in a brilliant atmosphere, thanks to a passionate home support at the Sparta-Bank-Hession Stadion and the travelling Dons that flew out to Germany.
Following the German double-header, which also involved a Friday night match against FC Kaiserslautern, Wally said: “Their fans have got some unique songs involving fans on one side of the pitch singing and then the other side gets going. The Offenbach fans sung their hearts out and our contingent in the far corner tried to match them. Bringing the club to as many away events as possible is a big thing for me because it teaches the young pros what being a footballer is all about. They could have a long career ahead that involves travelling to different countries and it gives our fans the opportunity to go abroad.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for the fans and for the club itself. It’s been terrific. You get a chance to come abroad and build relationships with clubs and who is to say that we can’t come out here next year and have a three-game competition? I’m sure the fans have enjoyed it and we certainly enjoyed coming. It was the same thing when we went to Ireland, everyone is interested in our story. If we get out there and let people know what we are about, then the interest can only be good for the club.”
Wimbledon suffered a last-gasp 3-2 defeat at Kickers Offenbach yesterday, but the performances of young Dons was a real positive, particularly with Huseyin Biler and Tommy Wood combining for the equaliser. Speaking about the game and moving his squad forward during the rest of pre-season, Wally added: “We made a couple of mistakes that we wouldn’t be making in a league game, but I was really pleased with the way we came back and gave ourselves a chance. The young boys came on and managed to get the equaliser themselves, but then they got a little slap in the face by letting one in at the end. Again, that will stand them in good stead. They will be pleased about getting the equaliser, and they will be disappointed about letting in the goal at the end, so it was a good learning curve for the young ones.”
“We haven’t done much teamwork and pattern play. We haven’t nailed down how we are going to be playing. This was just about getting us out there and getting the fitness levels up. Nobody has completed 90 minutes, but we are building towards that, and nobody has got injured. Everything we’ve planned to do, we’ve done. If we had got a victory, that would have been great, but that was never the main objective. I’ve never sent a team out not to win, but the results were secondary in the two games that we’ve played here and we got everything from the games that we wanted to.
“Mistakes will be addressed in the next two weeks. The structural work with the team can be a little bit tedious and we’ve got six weeks of it in pre-season so I don’t like to fire that into the players with ‘repeat, repeat, and repeat’. Over the next two weeks that is when we will get it in their minds. We will edge on with the games and look to be more competitive. We will aim to eradicate the mistakes that we made over the weekend. I’m quite happy with the fitness levels we have reached. If we can play better in the next two weeks, excellent, but I’m certainly looking now to restructure the way we play. Generally, I want to tighten things up so that we go into the first game of the new season all singing off the same song sheet so that, in the same way as last year, we all know our jobs.”
Take a look below at Wally’s full interview on our official You Tube channel.