SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper has asked his players to produce a performance packed full of “energy, pride and passion” when Preston North End visit the County Ground tomorrow.
The Robins are winless in eight matches going into the weekend clash and have consequently slipped away from the League One play-off picture, while Preston remain an outside shot for automatic promotion and boast the second best away record in the division.
Cooper is well aware of the task ahead of him and his squad and, first and foremost, he has demanded that Town show the same steely resolve which helped grind out a point from the goalless draw at Bristol City late time out.
“We’ve been there before where you think we’ve turned and we go back to a sub-standard performance. All we want on Saturday is a real hard-working performance. Yes, we want to play our football but we want a performance with pride and passion and to take it as difficult as we can for another really big club,” he said.
“I think they’ve shown they can fight when the chips are down. They can fight for the cause, which they did against Bristol City on Saturday. You’re playing another massive club and they bring off the bench two experienced Championship players, who are earning so many thousand pounds a week.”
Town were reduced to 10 men after just 55 minutes of the draw at City and Cooper feels that it can be easier for teams to dig deep and grind out a result in such circumstances. Therefore, he’s challenged his players to reach the same levels of performance from the start against Preston tomorrow.
“Sometimes going down to 10 men gives you that backs to the wall, siege mentality, so that can happen. It’s when we’re at home and things are not going well, it’s 11 versus 11, things are tense and anxious and the crowd are maybe on their backs a little, that for me is when you learn about their steel and their bravery to keep getting on the ball and make things happen,” he said.
“We’ve got players that are brave. There are different kinds of bravery. There’s bravery where you keep tackling and heading the ball but there’s the different kind where, no matter how much stick you’re getting or how much pressure you’re under, you’re still trying to keep getting the football in tight areas and create and make things happen. That’s a different kind of bravery and one we probably need more of.
“We just want to prepare and make sure the team gives a performance full of energy, passion and price. Yes, you have to play football but you have to put the other things in place first. You can’t just turn up and play, you have to win a battle first.”