Thomas on our opening two games
I am pleased with the two performances we’ve put in so far but I am very aware there are things we need to improve. It is a good foundation to build from. I want us to be better on the ball. In spells against Arsenal, and especially against Crystal Palace in the second-half, I felt we rushed it a little bit. We were really good in the pressing and won the ball back in some very good areas; in those situations we should have produced more chances. When you go high energy and press forward, it is sometimes difficult to then move the ball well and find good areas. We try to push the bar every single day and constantly try to improve. That should be the mindset.
Thomas on a Cup run
Last year was in some ways even more tricky. We had the most condensed season ever in the Championship. By the time we faced Tottenham Hotspur in the Semi-Final last year, we had played the most overall games in Europe. We want to treat it equally importantly; we would like to do even better than last year if possible. There are only two extra steps which is first to get to the final and secondly win it. We will try to do as well as possible; we know there are 20 teams who are trying to do that. We will try to get as far as possible.
[Last year] definitely gave us a boost that we could compete against these strong teams in the Premier League. One of the biggest boosts was against Southampton in Round Two. This is a good reminder to say to the players tomorrow; they played the strongest XI they could put out there and we put out a strong side, not our strongest because we only had six or seven starters, and that was enough on the day to beat them. We need to be ready.
Thomas on Forest Green
Forest Green have done very well. It is a remarkable story that Ethan Pinnock was there four years ago and, when he left, they had just qualified for the Football League. Now they are top of League Two and have won their first five games. They look very interesting and have done a very good job as a Club. I have been in England for four-and-a-half years and I have faced all sort of scenarios in the Carabao Cup. We know football is strange. It will be a big game and they will come with everything.
I would be very disappointed if they take things for granted. That is not to say that we won’t lose because football is football. We need to perform on the day. I will be disappointed if we don’t put a lot of effort and a good performance in tomorrow. Hopefully then we have the quality to win. We have built a squad and culture where, when people step in they are ready to perform. Over the past few years there have been very few where we have been bad.
Thomas on Team Selection
It is the right balance of putting a strong side out there that, hopefully, on paper is stronger than Forest Green, making sure we get some players in to get minutes so they are ready to compete, and making sure we have players in who have the core of the team. I think we still have a strong squad. Ethan Pinnock will play and captain the side tomorrow.
Thomas on Ethan Pinnock
Ethan is an example to follow for many people in football. What I admire a lot is how he constantly tries to improve and how well he trains every single day. He never misses training and never has a bad training session because of his attitude. I started the first season with Ethan in a back three and then when the results didn’t come changed to a back four with Julian Jeanvier and Pontus Jansson. During those eight games, Ethan was training fantastically. There was no moaning, just training and waiting for his chance. When he got his chance he put in a fantastic performance to win 1-0 against Reading. After the game I remember the players applauded him and since then he’s never looked back.
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