Boss pleased with “fantastic” workout for his players at the DW Stadium this weekend.
- Caldwell: “In terms of endeavour, desire and work rate, I can’t ask for more.”
- Gary praises the Reds of Merseyside and Manchester for their quality.
- Manager not worried by lack of goals and believes they will come in the next four pre-season games.
Latics manager Gary Caldwell was content with the physical work his side completed over the weekend as the majority of his first team squad got beneficial match minutes under their belts during the visits of Manchester United and Liverpool on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Caldwell’s side lost both games 2-0, defending resolutely in both until two individual errors allowed the deadlock to be broken in each game.
And, although he knows his side have to eradicate mistakes as costly as those this weekend, the Scot appreciated his side’s efforts over the course of the weekend.
“I think over the course of the weekend we have learned what it takes to be a top player and a top team,” Caldwell explained.
“I thought our players acquitted themselves very well in both games and in terms of endeavour, work rate and desire I can’t ask for any more.
“We just have to improve in our understanding of the game and then of our quality when we have the ball, but in terms of an exercise I thought it was fantastic.
“Good teams and good players punish you when you make mistakes and we’ve been heavily punished against United and Liverpool for two routine mistakes that we shouldn’t make. It’s something we must learn from going into the season ahead.”
Against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, a young Latics side impressed throughout and goalkeeper Lee Nicholls did his utmost to try and keep a second clean sheet of the season whilst young defender Jack Hendry received widespread praise on social media from supporters after the game.
“I thought Lee was excellent,” he added “His saves, his playing out, his composure was excellent and he had a good day’s work and was not at fault for either goal.
“Jack’s an excellent player who just has to put it all together now; he’s got talent, he’s got speed, he’s got great size, good feet, he can bring the ball out - as he showed today - and now he has to put all of that together and put in consistent performances day in and day out in training to take that into games.”
Including the behind closed doors game in Braga, it’s four pre-season games without a goal for Caldwell’s side – albeit against two Premier League giants and a Portuguese Primeira Liga side – but the boss admits he isn’t concerned with that stat just and shoulders some of the responsibility.
“We’ve got four games now that we want to go and stamp our authority on and go and try and get some confidence going into the season,” Caldwell continued.
“It’s partly down to myself and the coaching staff [that we haven’t scored] because we’ve deliberately worked a lot on defending and on being better off the ball because I think we’re going to need that going into the season ahead.
“For me it’s not a worry at all because we haven’t done much work on attacking play and we’ll focus on that in the remaining weeks heading into the season.”