“Our starting point is how do we give ourselves the best chance of being the best version of ourselves?...”
In spite of a tricky run of results, Mark Bonner is determined that his side present a good account of themselves on their return to Sky Bet League One action at the Abbey Stadium this weekend.
Against a Sheffield Wednesday side undoubtedly vying for a Championship return come the end of the season, it’s understandable that they approach the clash as heavy favourites. Although this is the U’s second season back in the third tier, the anticipation of these mammoth clashes certainly show no sign of deteriorating.
“I think the fact that we are regularly playing teams now that we’ve got to compete with, that we would have been delighted to draw in the FA Cup a few years ago, is just a sign of where we are.”
Examining his counterparts, the Head Coach mentions that “the expectation of their club is obvious, they’ve got to get promoted. We know that the pressure is always on those sides.
“You look at the top teams, they’ve definitely got stronger, in terms of starting teams and squads this year, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve got some top players.
“There’s no doubt there’s large parts of their game that will test us this weekend and individuals that can test us, but I know we’ve got players that can do that as well.”
Although five defeats in six is a bitter pill to swallow, it’s all about focusing on the next game as the campaign is a marathon and certainly not a sprint.
“It’s one week of 44 in a season. It’s a bad week, but crack on, because you’ve got another 33 games to play. If you want to get wrapped up and spend all your energy in what’s happened, fine, but that won’t help with what’s coming next.
“There’s no time for disappointment or frustration, there’s only time for controlling the next bit.”
All in all, it’s testament to the development of the side that this blip has been the toughest one experienced since Bonner took charge in March 2020.
“If this is the first time in two-and-a-half-years that people are a little bit worried that we’ve had a few dodgy results, I wouldn’t worry about having a dodgy spell, I would absolutely praise the lord that we’ve had such an unbelievable spell.
“If you think that lasts forever, then you’re just crazy. I’ve been a Cambridge fan for enough years to know that that’s not how it works. I think football fans know that as well.”
After admitting his side have “no divine right to beat anybody,” he gives an insight into what he demands from his XI as they aim to scrap and fight on Saturday.
“Our starting point is how do we give ourselves the best chance of being the best version of ourselves? With a shape of the opposition in mind, or how we think they’ll go about it, but as we found last week teams go into games in their own way. Being able to adjust in-game and adapt as players is key.
“Hopefully the players can go and be a really competitive, strong, aggressive team, that takes control in the moments that we get, and the moments that we can, and is really ruthless in our use of the ball as well.
“It’s a game that we go and play with a real belief that we can cause them some problems, because I think we can.”