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Maamria Focused On Next Task

6 February 2020

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Head Coach Dino Maamria believes his side are heading into what will be a testing period at the best possible time.

His side play Crewe, Exeter and Forest Green in the space of a week in what can ultimately decide the way the end of the season will finish, but is pleased heading into the fixture, especially Crewe at the weekend, that his team can perform and are on a good run of form.

"It's something we've been speaking about again as we've been doing well against the teams around us but we haven't really managed to crack the top teams in our league at the moment.

"We did do that last weekend and now we've got three of them in quick succession. Crewe, Exeter on Tuesday and then Forest Green so it's going to be a real test for us, but I think if there's any time we're ready for those games it's now.

"We've got ourselves together and playing with a lot of confidence and belief with and without the ball and we're in a really good position to attack those three games in a positive mindset."

On the latest opponent, Maamria said: "I know Crewe have finished mid-table for the last three years in League Two and they've had time to build something and now they're having a good season.

"Our focus is always on us really and I'm sure if we carry on what we've been doing in the last two or three weeks we'll get the right result.

"We have to keep building that spirit, keep building that threat especially going forward, let's not take the edge of our play away and let's not worry about the opposition, but let's worry about us and make sure we keep getting better."

He continued: "We have to keep building our attacking play. I think it's madness to go and change anything in terms of what we keep doing.

"We've got to keep working on those things. We've been defending from the front which is a really good sign.

"When I sit with the lads and show them certain clips of the previous games, it's how Danny Rowe closes down, Jonny Smith tracking back and Maouche winning headers that give us that edge and on top of that the way they play as well.

"We're not taking that for granted but the work ethic within the group has been absolutely immense. We've got threats from everywhere and I've got to enhance that and make sure that is a real asset for us."

With defeats to sides at the top of the table away from home, Maamria admits they've learnt their lessons from those types of encounters and expects to see more improvement when they go to Gresty Road against a team that have been excelling all season.

"Away from home we've been ok overall. We've learnt a lot from the defeats at Swindon and Cheltenham and we're ready now for the challenge ahead and to see if we can produce another good performance.

"We know we have a talented squad, we know we've been lacking consistency and to improve that we need to keep that spirit going.

"Despite the recent dry spell without a win what we've managed to do to stay unbeaten, we've been picking up points which was really important for us and I never underestimated that.

"Now we've showed in the last two games how good we can be, now the challenge is can we go again."

One major area that has changed is Latics' willingness to finish chances but also increase the number created and that is down to what has been a busy but productive transfer window.

"We did some good business in January to improve us, not just in the defensive area but the forward area as well.

"We maintain possession now in the attacking third a lot more than what we used to and that's why we're creating chances and scoring goals.

"It's great to see everybody contributing with goals and it's a team game and we're finally becoming that.

"It's taken a little bit of time but we've got to say grounded without knocking the confidence out of the team."

He continued: "The group are very happy and it's a lot easier for players to step into a team that are doing well now.

"We're together and if we have to make changes we will do and those coming in will I'm sure step up to the plate.

"We've raised the level now. You have to be 8/10 to get into the team, whilst before that you didn't have to do a lot.

"That's what you want from a good and healthy squad in terms of competition and raising the bar.

"McCann is back now from injury and has had a full week of training and also played 60 minutes in a behind closed doors game.

"Now Sylla and Missilou are doing brilliantly so he's got to do better than those to get back in and if he does it's a fantastic problem for me to have."

Away from the performances on the pitch, Maamria knows his squad have an opportunity as well as duty to build a relationship with the supporters after a successful question and answer session in the week.

"We're looking to organise the next event already. I want the players involved a little bit more and to be closer to the fans.

"Hopefully in half-term we'll have an event with the parents and kids coming down to spend the day with us.

"It's the start of many things to happen at this football club. It's been a sticky period on and off the pitch but we need to focus on the positives and create something special here."


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