Looking back to the Magpies game, what did you make of that performance?
I thought we played very well. We created a lot of chances, which is what we had been lacking in previous games and scored a few too… We also can’t forget the crucial saves Philip made to keep us in the game at the start, had those gone in it could have been a different story! All the players knew how important it was for us to win this game so we could stay close to the top of the table, so to win and play like we did was superb. Everyone involved had a great game and it was probably our most comfortable match up to now, but it has to go down to the players attitude of not giving up, regardless of the score.
5 massive goals, we saw you animated in the touch line to get the lads to score more, did you want to annihilate them?
If we had scored 2, 3 or 10, I would have still wanted my players to go forward and score more, regardless of the opponent, that’s the kind of mentality I want to instil into my players… to always want more! To not settle with what we have. We will need that kind of mentality when matches might not go our way. Obviously the 5 goals helped our goal difference so it was nice to win by that margin but we must not forget the clean sheet we kept as well. Because of the goals, we might sometimes forget the great performance at the back by the Keeper and Defenders, somewhere I believe we have improved immensely this season.
The support was quite vociferous during the game, did you feel it helped us as well as being better than them?
The support by our fans is always welcome and the louder it is, the better. I’m not gonna sit here and lie though, I do tell my players to focus on the game and try to blank out whatever is being shouted from the stands, whether positive or negative. What I don’t want them to forget though, especially during these colder months, is that all those fans are all there cheering them on and being their 12th man. Yeah lads, it’s f**king freezing at times!! And when it’s game day, to not only fight for themselves and their teammates, but for every single fan that comes along our matches. We all are a part of this club… from the fans to the President and when we win, we all win. If we were better than them, I will let the Magpies players decide that… we don’t play to be better than anyone else, we play to win.
Hamza was unstoppable, how happy are you with his settling in?
Hamza has been a breath of fresh air. He’s done extraordinarily well in every game he’s played and he has also settled in well with all his teammates. I’m hoping he can continue this run of form for the rest of the season. He is a game changer, a different kind of player we didn’t have and we definitely needed. He’s very intelligent and moves very well up front, he’s always giving defenders a tough time and you can tell his teammates feel more confident when attacking. With the added bonus of Seb returning, our front line is stronger than ever so competition will be tough, which is good for us as it doesn’t leave anyone resting on their laurels.
Moving on to the Hound Dogs game, what did you make of the result, 2-2 a fair result?
I think either team could have got the win in the end. Hound Dogs always proves to be a tough match for us, so I am happy with the point but would have obviously loved all 3. We could have got a couple of goals in the 1st half which would have set us up nicely for the 2nd, but it wasn’t to be. I think the players reacted extremely well when we went 1-0 down and never gave up… something that shows the mentality of this team. We were unlucky to concede the goals we did, but we can’t fault the defence or the keeper for that, they had been superb for the rest of the game. 18 points before the Christmas break is great and something we can build on after the New Year and the lads know that they will have to fight harder next year if we want to stay close to the top of the table.
It seemed we weren’t in the game at the start, what do you put the slow start down to?
I put it all down to the quality of Hound Dogs. They didn’t let us come into the game, they controlled the ball very well and tried keeping it. Once we came to life, it was a different story. We had great moments of possession and could have also gone 1 or 2 up. We are usually slow starters but because of the exceptional job our defenders are doing, we’re not suffering the consequences at the moment. It is something we are working hard to improve on and it’s usually hit and miss. Some games we take longer, others it just takes us 5 minutes… it all depends on the kind of opponent we play. We know that at times, we can’t have the ball to ourselves so we need to hold on and let the other team play, which it might seem as if we’re not in the game. When we can, we’ll try and keep the ball as long as we can and create the chances from long spells of possession. That’s how I think we play best.
It was a miserable wet and windy day, did that make it hard for both teams?
It would make it hard for any team (except Stoke)… it’s not the most pleasant weather to play in, or to manage in… it was freezing down there! I’m sure our fans will agree too, so thank you all for coming down to watch us. Back to the game, they seemed to take advantage of the wind in both goals as they came from long balls over the top of the defence. Something that is happening more due to the high line we usually play but not to worry… it’s something that we will work on during this Christmas break, as training doesn’t stop here.
Sols seemed to be everywhere on the pitch, as well as solid performances from others, in defence and midfield, do you see any room for improvement on the pitch in the January transfer window?
Right now, I’ve got 22 players signed up and as long as they are all fully commited, come to training and give it their all, there is no reason for me to go looking for replacements in January. I will say this, there have been players who have approached me already wanting to sign (names will not and cannot be released), so if any of my players decide to read this far… beware! BTW, as a journalist, I can speculate on names and I am hearing that a Hernan Crespo move is possibly on the cards,we will keep you posted. All jokes aside, when signing all the players I had, I also made a commitment to them, so if they put the effort and commitment back, I can’t release anyone… I believe it would be disrespectful. However, we will look to improve the team next season as I do plan on stepping up things, depending on how this season goes and if the Boca Committee decide to keep me on too.
How would you sum up your 2013? Being on the Boca periphery 12 months ago to now having the 2nd most important football job in Gibraltar?
For starters, I didn’t expect to be the Boca manager 12 months ago in all honesty. Unfortunately Lawrence had to step down and I was given the chance to take on the job, which is something I have loved so far and continue to do so with every game that passes. With a record of 5 wins, 3 draws and only 2 losses so far, I’m extremely happy with the team’s effort. I wouldn’t have imagined starting so well and being so close to the top of the table. It doesn’t stop here though, we still have 12 more games to play this season and there is no doubt that the team will be working hard to win most if not all of them. Like I said before, training doesn’t stop here… we must keep going, which I’m sure other teams in the League will too, so we have to keep up. It might be the 2nd most important football job in Gibraltar, but it is probably the most demanding. Yeah, the GFA job just about knicks its becuase they have to play their games in some foreign country out of their comfort zone. With the biggest fan base of any team in Gibraltar, I know the performances will have to be of the highest level, if not, it’s curtains for me! I don’t want to be the next AVB…
As it is that time of year, we want to wish everyone in the Boca family a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Boca Treat Day was a fitting way to end 2013 in the stands, thank you from the fans to everyone who contributed to making those delicious treats.
Also, seeing it’s almost that time of year, I would like to wish all our fans on behalf of the team and myself, a very Merry Blue & Yellow Christmas and a Happy New Year! A massive thank you for all your support thus far and we look forward to you cheering us on in the New Year, we wouldn’t be where we are without you! We will do our best to carry on making you proud of forming part of our family!