Ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Woking in the National League, new Yeovil Town manager Mark Cooper has been speaking with the media about his first few days in charge. Here is his discussion with BBC Somerset reporter, Sheridan Robins…..
SR: Tell us what it was that made you choose Yeovil.
MC: I wanted to get back to work. I spoke to one or two clubs and this just seemed right. I could have waited for another League job or a ‘better’ non-League job but I wanted to get back to work.
Whenever I have been to Yeovil I have enjoyed the atmosphere, so it’s a job I am looking forward to.
It is very rare you go in to a job where everything is right and everybody is smiling, you usually go in to a job where somebody has been sacked for a reason.
It’s a difficult job, but I am looking forward to it.
SR: What can supporters expect from a Mark Cooper team?
MC: My teams have always tried to dominate opposition with the ball, but at the moment it is about simple, clear messages and trying to get confidence back.
When you are on a bad run, people lose confidence so it is about trying to play in the opposition’s half, get crosses in to the box and sustain some attacks and try and get supporters behind the team.
SR: Did you see that, particularly in the first half, against Maidstone?
MC: In the first half, sure. Second half there was a little bit of fear because (we felt like) we’re not supposed to be winning, so we take a step back rather than take a step forward.
The first half was really encouraging, the players gave a great effort and if we can replicate that effort and keep adding layers to our work and showing the players what we need, we will be alright.
SR: It was a penalty decision which cost you three points, but is it just a confidence thing that you couldn’t put the game to bed?
MC: Of course, we had a couple of chances where you think ‘if you get the second goal, that is game over.’ We can talk about the penalty decision all you like, but I’ve made a promise to myself to not get in trouble and be a good boy!
SR: Fans can be impatient and they want to get out of the bottom four, but is it a case of taking it game by game and learning to walk before we can run?
MC: It is important we go game by game, that is the only way we can approach it. Over the last few years that impatience grows and if you don’t win one game, there’s people shouting for you to be out.
That is social media, that’s the way it is now, and we have to accept that.
But if fans are seeing that players are giving everything they have got and they want to do their best, that can forgive a lot.
SR: You brought in a number of players at Maidstone who had not been in the team with the previous manager, are you wanting to see all the players you have at your disposal?
MC: When a new manager comes in, some players automatically see it as an opportunity if they have not been playing. I feel sorry for Chris, I have watched a lot of games back and at times he was unlucky with some results.
SR: Is one of the benefits of your ban being that you can get a better view from the stands?
MC: My ban is served, it was served before Saturday. You see so much more from up there. It’s something I have done over the years, I have watched part of the game upstairs to try and get a good overview of the pitch.
It can be difficult down there to see from the dug out, so I will watch different parts of different games from that position because you see so much more.
SR: You were able to give messages to Chris Todd who has obviously been here all season which must be a positive as well.
MC: The staff have been great, they all want to do well for the club and to learn – and Chris got plenty of phone calls on Saturday, that is for sure.
SR: The atmosphere here before Chris lost his job was pretty poor and you know the situation with the ownership, everyone has to come together, haven’t they?
MC: Ideally, yes. You can’t succeed with a disconnect between fans and players because players need backing. I don’t think (the form) has been down to a lack of effort, it is very rare you see a player not trying.
It’s about uniting the players and the staff, whatever goes on above us we can’t affect that but what we can affect is out there on the pitch.
Every team I send out there will give 100%, we won’t win every game, we might draw a few and lose a few, but they will give 100%.
SR: At Forest Green Rovers you had that winning mentality and at Yeovil at the moment that
MC: You have to build from the bottom, put the processes in place. That doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, you have to get everything right, your recruitment, to get that winning mentality and formula. That has to be the
SR: Do you have the backing of the board to bring new players in?
MC: If we do bring players in, we might have to move a couple on. The squad is big enough, I think we just have to add a bit of freshness and athleticism.
But, goals are a difficult one. If you want a 25-goal-a-season striker, you have to pay a lot of money. Fish (Alex Fisher) scored a good goal on Saturday, he’s not been scoring (this season) but he looked a really good player on Saturday.
SR: We seemed to struggle with set pieces which are particularly important in the National League, aren’t they?
MC: We have got a really big team, but I’ve been told we’ve not scored from a set piece this season. I have just been talking to Toddy (Chris Todd) down in the office and we need to really look on that. It’s something to work on.
SR: Chris Todd and Marcus Stewart are going to be important for you going forward, aren’t they?
MC: They are great football people. Chris was a really good centre back at this level and he’s been invaluable for me for getting to know the squad and those little intricacies of how players work.
Marcus was a fantastic centre forward. If he was ten years younger we wouldn’t be struggling for goals.
SR: Tuesday is going to be another tough game against Darren Sarll, an opponent we know well. Are there players who will be wanting to prove to you they deserve a start?
MC: I am yet to experience an easy game in football, because somebody always wants to beat you. But you are playing against another 11 players, so the first thing we have to do is compete.
I want us to be really front foot, intense and play in the opposition’s half. It will be a tough game, they are flying, Darren’s done a really good job there, like he did here, and he’ll be desperate to beat Yeovil.
But we need to have something to say about that.
SR: How much time have you had on the training ground with the team since arriving?
MC: I have had probably 30-40 minutes on Friday morning, but I liked what I saw in the first half on Saturday. The fans that went will have seen the effort and commitment and a little bit of what we are trying to do.
We need to improve and that is the aim.
SR: It seems to be just about getting the team over that line and getting that first win, doesn’t it?
MC: I was hoping we could get over the line (at Maidstone). We should have had a corner, but it was a goal kick, they kick it down the pitch and we get a decision against us.
But that happens and now we have to react to that and I’m looking forward to that first win.
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