Q&A With… Neil McGregor

Centre half Neil McGregor took his turn to talk to the Official Website’s Grant Morton, as he faced a weekend without a match due to the international fixture…

GM: How did it feel to get the first away win of the season last week?
NM: It was really good to break our duck on the road, so to speak, and we can hopefully build on it. It’s great momentum for us going into the Morton game and then hopefully away to St.Johnstone.

Did you see it as an important fixture with both teams being at the wrong end of the table?
We knew the papers had been building it up and I think deep down the boys knew it was a big game. But we just treated it like any other game until 3pm on Saturday afternoon when all the boys were really up for it.

Has it boosted moral?
I don’t think it has boosted moral as the squad has great characters and moral is always high. Big Evangelino is a great character and is good to have around, although we did give him a bit of stick about the shirt incident on Monday!

How has training been this week?
It’s been good and hard. On Monday and Friday we were in the gym with Rab (Kielty) doing pyrometrics, which is really good for the joints and can help you have a long career. We had Tuesday off because we have the weekend off but it has been short sessions with lots of games.

Do you think the weekend off is a good thing or a bad thing?
At the start of the season when we had a lot of games it was good when the international came round as it gave us a break, but I think with us getting a good result last week it would have been good to keep the momentum going and have a game. But the Scotland game has come around and we have to deal with that.

The team are 7th after the first quarter of the season. Are you satisfied with this?
I think we definitely could have done better but I think we’ve done not bad. There have been games like the Partick game and Dunfermline cup game where we’ve not performed and games where we should have scored more goals like in the Queen of the South game. New players have come in now which helps. We’ve had games though where we’ve dropped silly points and made mistakes that have cost us the game, like the Dundee game, where I made a mistake, and the Hamilton game. The manager has told us that we need to keep 11 men on the park.

Was it a penalty against Hamilton?
The Hamilton player tapped the ball when we were shoulder to shoulder and there was a wee nudge. I think it was a harsh decision but the referee played to the rules so I can’t complain.

Have any teams stood out for you so far?
Not really. We aren’t afraid to play anyone. If we can cut out the mistakes I don’t see us struggling at all. Dunfermline have Premier League players in their team but are struggling to adapt to the style of play in the First Division as it is more direct than in the Premier League. I think in this league it’s about who turns up on the day.

As a centre back, has having a manager who was an international class defender been of benefit to you?
Definitely. The manager has a lot of experience. It’s great to have someone who has played in a World Cup around. Although I do think he has had his hands tied a lot so far because there is no assistant, but hopefully something will get sorted out soon.

What do you think are the main differences between this season’s style of play and last seasons?
We’ve changed formation to a 4-4-2, which I think the players are more suited to. Last season we were playing a 3-5-2 but a lot of the boys didn’t like it. We have to play the style which the manager wants and with a lot of players’ deals being up at Christmas, we may have to play a different style come that time.

There has been a lot of change over the last few weeks with a new Chairman and new General Manager coming in. How has this affected the players?
It doesn’t affect us too much. The new Chairman spoke to me, Mikey and Craig a couple of weeks ago and let us know that we can speak to him whenever we want, about whatever we want so it is beneficial to know that he is approachable.

A lot of players left over the summer and gradually new faces have come in. Do you think there are still gaps to be filled?
We have the basis of a strong squad now but I think we could benefit with a few more players. We have a good core of defenders now and Joe (Cardle) coming in has allowed Dougie (Imrie) to change position. I think the manager is still looking to bring in a few more players, which is good to know as it means everyone has to prove themselves and fight for a place.

Could you tell us a little about the captaincy situation with you and Mikey?
Me and Mikey are joint captains. When I signed the new deal last year, Joe told me I would be captain but then I got injured and Mikey took the role. When Colin came in he didn’t want to change things too much too fast so he stuck with Mikey on the park. We need 11 captains on every match day. It works well though as Mikey and myself are two of the most experienced and longest serving players at the club now.

You signed a long-term deal last season. Do you expect to see this out?
It’s hard to say as you never know what is going to happen in football. You could have an injury and that could be the end of your career or you could be offered a dream move. When Saturday comes every player hopes someone notices his performance. That’s why we play. Those of us who have been released from other clubs want to show our old managers that they made a mistake letting us go.

There was talk of a move for you in the transfer window. How much of this did you know about?
Not much to be honest. I read about it and was quite surprised. Colin pulled me aside after training one day and said that there had been an approach from Carlisle but the manager had been sacked that day. In the end nothing came of it but it was very flattering, as all players want to play at the highest level. But I have no problems being at Clyde and unless anything happens, I will be here for the next two years.

What happened to the hair?!
I just fancied a change. There always seems to talk about my hair! To be honest I was getting stick from the boys. They were saying I was Colin’s love child! It was getting too long so it was time for a change.

Are you looking forward to getting another three points next weekend?
I think it’s a big game next week. We did ok in the first game against them and we definitely deserved more out of the game, especially when Stevie’s (Masterton) free kick was disallowed for no apparent reason. I think that’ll be at the back of our minds and we’ll be looking for revenge.

What are your personal aims for the remaining three quarters of the season?
I want to stay fit. I haven’t played a full season with Clyde yet! I want to stay in the team, play as well as I can and help the team to keep on winning.

Do you have any messages for the fans?
I’d like to let them know that the boys appreciate all their support and we hope they keep coming to the games to support us.