Full Cov Presser
Ross on three at the back: "Right now that system suits us best. The good thing is what we have in the squad right now means we can change it if needs be. We can go to a back four very easily, so there is that flexibility. That way of playing has been effective for us this season, though. If you'd asked me at the start of the season I'd have probably said that I'd have a maximum of two ways of playing, maybe this season we might need a bit more. We might need that element of surprise because opponents have done that to us. The balance is, if you're winning games and playing well within a system, do you keep trusting what you do and not worry so much about the opposition? You have these constant dilemmas every week. I think he's (Max Power) different to the other midfielders that we have. At Burton we felt we had invited pressure, with not enough forward runs and passes. Max probably helps in both those senses. He helps mainly because he balances our options. We’ve got three games this week, a tough away game and then a really big game on Tuesday. We’ll have to utilise the squad through that so having more options is a definite positive. There’s a lot of things consider. We won the game well last weekend and played reasonably well through parts of it. Max has actually been out for the best part of a month now as well, if it had been injury [people would say he’d needed time], although of course it’s a bit different because he’s trained. It’s actually exciting for me to have this. It’s a different challenge."
Ross on team spirit: “I have a group of players that have trained really well this week, but the mood, the confidence and the positivity around the group never diminished after the Burton game, and it’s encouraging to see that continue. To be where we are is encouraging because I do think we will get better, and we’ve shown signs already that we’ve progressed. All of our all of our games have been difficult this season, both home and away They’ve been really challenging for a variety of reasons, and I think we’ve also learnt that in this league, the previous week’s result for a team doesn’t always reflect upon their performance when we go and play them. We’ve seen that already on a couple of occasions where teams have then produced a good performance, but I’m not saying that’s just because of us, it’s just the nature of this league. So, it’s another tough game and we’re away from home, which is obviously on paper always more challenging than playing at home. But we’re going into it on the back of an encouraging performance, and also going into it with almost a fully fit squad.”
Ross on Chris Maguire’s swagger! “He’s a good player, technically he’s good, he’s got good quality and I’ve known that since he was a young age because I played against him when he was just coming through at Aberdeen. He drives me nuts sometimes in training, but he can produce it on matchday - it’s just how it is! You have to be able to marry different characters, and part of evolving as a manager is coming away from the idea that you need the same type of player to do the same type of thing every single day. You have to have a bit of give and take at times. When we brought him to the club he was one who I thought would never wilt in the home environment - if anything, he probably thrives on it. He has that little bit of swagger, that bit of West coast garrulousness that gives the message ‘I’m a good player, just give me the ball and I’ll do what I do.’ We’ve got a good relationship him and I - as I have with all my players because it is something I work at - so when we spoke post-Burton, he understood [why he was left out] because he knew he had been off it a little bit. But equally he also knew that he had been good when he came on. It’s important sometimes that he hears that from me. And then he knew that if he went on produced that again then he would get himself back in the team. It’s very simplistic but sometimes that communication gets left out and a player finds himself wondering why he was left out, and whether he is part of a manager’s plans. There’s nothing wrong with showing a certain amount of reassurance at times.”
Ross on Josh Maja's contract talks. "These conversations don't often take place directly between a manager and a player but the desire from us to keep them is concrete. That's not just because of how he has started the season, it was there from the moment I started working him. He'll have decisions to make when that comes around, but one thing I think about him is he is happy and enjoying his football. Hopefully, as a young man, he is not too much of a rush to get somewhere he may get to eventually if he keeps doing what he's doing. I think a number of players were very uncertain about what lay ahead. That was natural given everything that had happened at the club. I was somebody they didn't know and hadn't worked with before. There was a change of ownership as well and at the start of pre-season a lot of players would have come in with uncertainty around their future role, whether they were wanted and whether they wanted to be here. We had to make sure we created that environment for all the players and he is one who has flourished under that. We could encourage him that he could play regularly and score goals and it would stand you in good stead for the rest of your career. He's seen that reward has come for him pretty quickly and he understands that if he does that over the course of a whole season then it will give him a great platform to kick on."
Ross on Maja’s strengths. "What Josh has, if you strip back his attributes, he has a lot that gives him the chance to play at a really good level. He has little bits of his game that he needs to improve upon, but it's about balancing that out and strengthening what he is already good at. He has a really good starting point because of his mindset. He's intelligent, he's bright and he wants to get better and makes demands on us to make him better and takes in information. I am excited about him. I think you forget he's only 19 as well. Physically he is able to cope with the demands a of the game nowadays so it's a really good start for him I think he has enough in his locker already to give him a good possibility of playing at a really good level."
Ross on Ndong. "It has been relatively easy for me as a manager because of the work behind the scenes by other people, it meant I've not had to deal with a lot of it. I made my stance clear in terms of what I was trying to build on the training pitch and in the squad. I am grateful the owners have been in alignment with me in terms of their thinking, they been consistent and strong in their actions. It is difficult for me to comment in detail because I'm sure matters with Djilobodji and Ndong will take time to resolve completely but it is a statement of intent in terms of how we want to progress the club and take it forward. No (he wasn’t put through a fitness test.) The situation had developed far beyond that. My dialogue and involvement with not only the player - or any representatives - had been pretty much non existent. I am grateful as it allowed me to concentrate on what I had in the building and making that better. No (I’d not have worked with him), not from my side as a manager. To try and develop a culture within your club - it is relative in all walks of life - it is not an easy thing to do, it can very easily be tipped the other way. I'm not casting aspersions on that one individual player to say he would do that but we have done well to build the spirit in a short period of time, we don't want to come away from that. The ones that have been at the club from day one have been very committed, the ones we have bought in have the right work ethic. We want to foster that and grow it and it is important we do that to get the club back through the leagues."
Ross on Duncan Watmore’s return. “He’s joined in training with me this week, and that’s been really good. We’ve tailored some of the sessions to suit him, and that’s a big step forward for him. He’s done more or less the same as everyone else, and he’s getting ever closer, but there’s a duty of care on us to make sure we don’t rush him back. He feels good and there’s been no reaction. He believes he’s in a better shape than when he came back from the first injury. He’s popular within the group, so even just mentally, to have him back on the training ground has been good for us. What we have to do now is make sure we don’t rush things or put too much pressure on him. When he came back the first time, there was probably a real desire to get him straight back in because results weren’t that great. We didn’t know for certain that he’d be able to do what he’s done this week, but it’s good. He’s a good player, so it’ll obviously be great to have him back playing eventually. He’s got good support around him and the medical staff have been terrific. Paul Walsh in particular in the latter stages, with the amount of time he spends with him. Dunc’s a smart guy and he’ll say he’s watching games and thinking he’s desperate to get out there but because it’s his second serious injury I think he wants to make sure he’s absolutely right and we’re encouraging that. I think it’s a good marriage at the moment because I would suggest when he comes back he will be properly right at it. We would look to get him some game time (with the Under-23s) before he got involved in the first team.”
Ross on Parasite-Gate. "Naturally, for me as a manager, I would always like as many home supporters as possible in the stadium on a fortnightly basis or whenever we're playing at home. It goes without saying that it helps us enormously when they're behind us and I think we've seen that already in home games this season. There's always an economic argument for how often fans can get to games and I'm acutely aware of that. The numbers they've turned out in for home games has been absolutely remarkable. I know that's been supported by some of that stats that have come out recently that show average attendances across European leagues, never mind across teams. To be close to 30,000 or around that mark for average attendances is incredible and wouldn't be replicated at very many clubs across Europe. For me it's very simple, I just want to keep on encouraging as many of them back as we can and I think if we progress as we have done so far, we'll get that up again which is fantastic given the league we find ourselves in."
All 2,628 tickets for Bradford City away, on Saturday 6 October, are now sold out. You can book transport for Coventry and Bradford via ALS here…