“I’m sure whoever’s fit for the weekend will give a good account of ourselves and put in a performance we can be proud of…”
Mark Bonner cut a determined figure in his pre-match press conference as he looked to steer his side back to winning ways in Sky Bet League One when they make the journey to Bristol Rovers.
After suffering a fourth defeat in their previous five, it’s an ideal time for the U’s to chalk up further points against the newcomers, as opposed to recent clashes where the side have done battle with former Championship outfits who like to dominate the possession and are ruthless in the attack.
“It’s one to look forward to at the end of a fairly tough week for us playing against two of the top teams. It’s one we want to try and go and give firstly a really good performance in, and secondly take something from the game. I think that’s important for us, off the back of the last couple of results.
“It’s up to us to force the game and try and take it to them and see if we can get ourselves on the winning team.”
Discussing the changes he has had to make to the XI on a week-by-week basis, particularly with the centre-back pairing that has switched numerous times in his tenure, Mark highlights its usefulness as well as admitting that a settled side is the target in the future.
“It’s part of development that you want to change things, that’s the right thing to do. Eventually we’d like to get to that point.
“I believe all our players are able to play at this level and be competitive firstly, and secondly I’m not one to moan about what is and isn’t available – you make do with what you’ve got. We’re more than capable with the team we’ve got.”
Standing in their way on Saturday is a Rovers side who are struggling to cement some authority in a new division against some real heavyweights, as United also found out at times last campaign. Due to that, the Head Coach was cautious that his opposite number, Joey Barton, could ring the changes or opt for a different approach.
“The truth is it could be anything really. We’ve seen them change shape quite a lot. They’ve got players that have played in a lot of positions, the back three has changed a lot… played with midfielders in wing-back positions, with a front two and a front three… they’ve changed all the time.
“I think at their core they want to play, they want to dominate possession, but with injuries and changes they’ve made recently it’s flip-flopped between styles.”
Although wary, Mark reiterated that the focus is always on what his men can do and not get caught up on the opposition.
“We can’t get too obsessed by them because we don’t really know what’s coming. What we’ve got to do is get ourselves ready to be the best version of us and show a flexibility on the day to adjust to whatever they do.
“It will be a tough game but one we have got to try and grab by the scruff of the neck.
“I’m sure whatever team we put on the pitch we can go and give them some problems – that’s our aim.”