Preece on preparing for Play-Off Final
Sunderland goalkeeper coach David Preece was a guest on The Athletic podcast The Totally Football League Show this week, where he discussed Sunderland’s Play-Off Semi-Final win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Although everyone enjoyed reaching the final following the two-legged victory, Preece was at pains to point out that the team have achieved nothing yet:
The whole attitude towards it from everyone, not just from the manager, but right down to the players and the rest of the staff, it was a case of we’ve achieved nothing.
We had to enjoy the moment of course, it was a brilliant atmosphere.
Seeing the fans, the way they were, personally of course I know how much they’ve been through these past five years since we came down from the Premier League, it’s been a tough time for them and just listening afterwards to what it meant to them and the way they were celebrating, it’s a long time since we’ve had something to celebrate like that.
Especially the game on Friday night at the Stadium of Light, it’s a testament to the fans, the effort they and the club have put in to put on an occasion and gladly we managed to rise to that and make sure it didn’t fall flat on it’s face.
Preece then discussed why Alex Neil had not made changes to the line up following Wednesday’s equaliser and how the team and staff would approach the Wembley fixture with Wycombe:
The manager’s explained it well himself, he got a feeling that changing things perhaps, not that it would make anything any better but he trusted so much in the players and what they were doing, they didn’t look tired, it could have been easy for us to assume that after the two games and the effort they put in over the two games.
We looked at the numbers over the last couple of days and they put in an incredible amount of effort into it, it’s a testament to them that they didn’t really look tired and as a manager when you’re going into a game with a game plan and the players carry that out, you’ve still got that faith in them despite going behind, despite being up against it for a good 10-15 minutes after that equaliser. The faith that he has in the squad, it says a lot about the players and not just as players but as characters as well.
It could have been easy to panic and easy to think something needs to change, to try and curb what Sheffield Wednesday were doing at that time but I think over the two games, over the course of everything that had gone on, we always felt - not that we were comfortable - but things were being carried out the way we wanted them to.
And for a manager it’s to keep things the way they are then.
Nothing changes, we’re still in season. It’s a final at Wembley but, at the end of the day, it’s just another game and if you treat it any differently, then you’ll perhaps get a different result at the end of that and we can’t afford to do it.
The manager is very much a grounded person, talking about the celebrations after the game, they were minimal. We want to show appreciation to the fans, we want to acknowledge that we were doing something good but again, it’s just about getting down to it again and preparing exactly the way we have done the past 15-16 games under the manager.
As what’s happened is we’ve put a lot of effort behind the scenes into how we approach each game and we’ll do exactly the same for this one, if not more.
You can listen to the entire episode of The Totally Football League Show and it’s interview with Preece by pressing play on the audio player below.
Interest in Gooch
Lynden Gooch is out of contract at the end of the season, with no decision announced about whether he will remain at the club until after we find out which division we will be playing in following next week’s Play-Off Final.
Gooch’s form has improved massively as we head towards the final game of the season and BBC South TV reporter Andrew Moon says that should the American international not be offered a new deal, Portsmouth will be interested in the player.
‘I have never been so bullied in my life’
Benji Kimpioka returned home to Sweden at the end of March, joining Allsvenskan club AIK as he looks to play more first-team football.
With The Swedish under-21 international settling into life in Stockholm, Kimpioka has been speaking about his time at Sunderland with Swedish newspaper Expressen, during the interview the 22-year-old revealed just how difficult he found the first couple of years in Sunderland.
Joining the club at the age of 16, in 2016, from IK Sirius, Kimpioka said that he felt bullied and exposed at the Academy of Light:
The culture in England is very different from Sweden. In Sweden they take care of you from when you are young, the coaches do and especially the teammates.
But in England they ran me over straight away. It could be that I made a mistake one game so we lost the game. Nobody wanted to take me home even though I lived 20 minutes from the facility and I had to walk. Nobody talked to me. I did not get my first salary so the month leading up to that salary I had no clothes and I was stuck in my room. No one invited me in.
I had never been so bullied and exposed in my life, I had never been through anything like this.
Usually you might call home and talk to your family, but I didn’t want to call home and say I was doing badly. I just want to give good news so there was a month that I didn’t answer when my mum called, I just wrote back ‘everything is fine, I can’t talk’. I could cry in my room.
He then gives an example of an ‘eye-opening’ experience following a 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, in which a coach caused him to cry by shouting in his face:
I’ll never forget my first eye-opener there. In my first U18 game, we played West Bromwich and I dribbled a lot. We lost, it wasn’t my fault, but it was something they weren’t ready for in the team. That I was dribbling when we were losing, they wanted me to run and tackle.
In the dressing room I was sitting there thinking I played an okay game and the coach was completely silent. Then he came up to my face, ten centimetres away, and shouted the loudest he could that I could go back to Sweden with my stupidity. And I sat there 16 years old. Tears were flowing. I’ll never forget that time because it made me stronger.
Thankfully for Kimpioka, his situation improved following structural changes at the Academy, with a new academy director - presumably Paul Reid - immediately promoting him to the u23s.
A new academy director came in, and I saw it as a new chance. He watched our training and that training was a great training for me. He immediately moved me up to the U23 team, no one was ready for that. From there I got confidence and was in the senior team early and I was the first born in 2000 to score in the senior team. Then came the U21 national team, everything changed. If that hadn’t happened, I might have given up and come back to Sweden. Who knows. Now I’m too strong in the head to give in.