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Jimmy Dean looks ahead to Tamworth season opener

4 August 2023


Jimmy Dean looks ahead to Tamworth season opener

4 August 2023

First team manager Jimmy Dean is looking forward to his side taking a successful pre-season into competitive action this weekend when the Iron open their Vanarama National League North campaign away at Tamworth.

United go into the game unbeaten in five games following three games at Glanford Park against EFL opposition in which Scunthorpe yielded a win and two draws.

Speaking ahead of the trip to the Lamb Ground, he said: “We’re looking forward to it. It’s been a long pre-season, but it’s also been a long time since the end of last season. 

“We wanted to get a side together that the club can be proud of and start winning football matches, and hopefully we’ve done that.”

Reflecting on the final of the three games at Glanford Park, which resulted in a 2-1 victory over Burton Albion, he continued: “I thought it was a fantastic performance, particularly against the formation they played as it was a real achilles heel when we played against it last season. 

“I thought the mobility in the side coped with it really well against a League One side. There were some big performances across the pitch and I thought Alfie Beestin has been doing really well in that new role in front of the back four. We looked good going forward and really solid defensively, so I was pleased with it.”

Following a quintet of games without defeat, Dean has a selection headache ahead of the opening day, with more than a squad full of players all making favourable impressions in the warm-up fixtures, and in training.

“There are a lot of selection headaches, but these things sort themselves out over the course of the summer,” he stated. 

“Looking at it from the outset, you’d think selection would be really difficult, but as the summer goes on, it becomes more and more obvious. There have been some challenging decisions, I won’t lie, and there still will be some challenging decisions. Some will be made on the opponent - a couple of places have been decided on what we think suits this particular game. 

“It’s inevitable that we’re going to have some unhappy faces, but I wouldn’t expect anything different.”

Tamworth head into the game off the back of back-to-back wins in pre-season having seen off AFC Telford United and Barwell with seven goals scored without reply. Their preparations for their return to the division following promotion last year has seen them pick up five victories from nine pre-season games.

“They’re a side that’s used to winning,” the United boss continued.

“That bodes really well for them, particularly having their first game at home. Fans will be on the edge of the pitch. We know what to expect and I know the manager well. It’ll be a really tough game because it’s a side that are used to winning. We’ve got to impose ourselves on them and make it difficult for them. We have to earn the right to play the game, do the ugly stuff well. 

“If we can’t do that, it’ll be difficult, but if we can do that, I think it’ll be a positive day.”

For Dean, it’s about replicating what his side has shown in the recent games in pre-season. From the output to the game plan, he’s challenged his squad to continue their thriving form.

“We want what they’ve shown for 46 league games and two FA competitions,” he said. 

“That’s exactly what I’m after. We talk a lot about players being proud to wear the shirt, appreciating what they’ve got at this football club, and I think we’ve got a group that does that.

“On a daily basis, the intensity and the levels have gone up. We’ve got players desperate to play for the club and in the melting pot, it’s all come together lovely. It’s created a real robust, energetic, hard-working environment, which is where we want to be.”

Dean also provided an update on the players who perhaps won’t be involved at the Lamb Ground at the weekend, with the most notable update coming on Callum Roberts, who was withdrawn in the draw against Hull City.

“Cal has been involved today (Thursday), and we will have to see how he reacts and see where he’s at on Friday. I don’t know whether the weekend might come too soon for him, but the good news is that it’s nothing long term.

“Maxi (Kouogun) has had a hamstring strain from Saturday and came off at half-time. He wanted to train on Thursday, but we pulled him out to be sure. Reags (Reagan Ogle) has trained all week. We took him off at half-time last weekend with a dead leg, but he’s trained all week. Other than that, we’re all good.”

The Iron manager once again reserved his final comments for the supporters. 750 tickets were allocated by Tamworth for the game, with all of those tickets snapped up in a matter of days.

Dean is adamant it’s time for his side to do the talking with the ball at their feet, and is looking forward to the first opportunity at the weekend.

“It’s amazing (the support). I think all the players feel exactly what they’ve got here after the three home games,” he added. 

“Hopefully we’ve shown the fans against three EFL opposition that we could have something to be proud of this year. It’s an amazing fanbase, but I’d rather we did our talking on the pitch. I don’t want idle promises, I want to give these people something to be proud of.

“I’ve touched on it before, how much pain the fans have been through. Fingers crossed, this season it’s time to put smiles on faces. We feel their excitement, we feel their buzz. It all makes a difference. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got to make them happy and proud. We understand how much all this means to them.”

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