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Cambridge United head coach Neil Harris wants other teams to fear his side as he prepares for trip to Charlton Athletic





New Cambridge United head coach Neil Harris has stated that he wants other teams to fear his side as the U’s prepare to travel to the Valley to face Charlton Athletic on Saturday (3pm).

The 46-year-old replaced Mark Bonner, who was sacked by the club last week, as the U’s new first-team head coach on an 18-month contract.

The ex-Millwall and Cardiff City boss made it clear in his first press conference at the helm at the Abbey that he wants his side to be a handful for other clubs in Sky Bet League One.

Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell

“For me coming to Cambridge United, I want to bring all of my personal traits with me, I want to represent the football club and the fanbase the best I can,” said Harris.

“I want us to be a football team that people don’t want to play against. That’s the biggest thing for me. When you're a team at our stage at the moment where we’re at on our journey, we’re a little bit of an underdog and we need to use that as a real strength.

“We have to raise our game every week and that starts against Charlton. I want the fans to see a front foot Neil Harris team that they would have been used to over the years seeing my teams play, and would have feared playing against them. I want teams to fear us.

Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell

“Players can control personality and character. That should never be in doubt for a Cambridge United team. Whether that’s at the Abbey where we should be really tough to play against or on our travels as well.

“That’s been the strength of the group over a few years now and that’s a non-negotiable. It’s a non-negotiable for a Neil Harris team and a Cambridge United team as well.”

The U’s currently sit 18th in the League One standings and only four points off the relegation places, with their last win coming at the end of October and the new United boss is keen to build confidence back into the side, as he said: “It’s about taking small steps, it’s the best way of doing it. The board are being really sensible, investing as they go along and adapt as they go over seasons and transfer windows.

“Ultimately, the aim of the club is to be in the Championship and be sustainable in the Championship, but you have to build those blocks to get there.

Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We’re certainly not putting any pressure on the players or staff on where we need to finish in the league. I’m not going to get involved in that at the moment. Ultimately, I’m inheriting a group that I feel should be doing slightly better in the division but we have been in a difficult moment so I need to be respectful to that.”

With the January transfer window open in less than a month, Harris has the ideal opportunity to strengthen and improve the group that he has inherited.

“I have to assess the squad as quickly as I can and not jump to any conclusions on players. Over the course of the last five days I’ve spoken to Ben and the recruitment guys and put my ideas across as to where the club might need to boost,” said Harris.

Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge United new manager Neil Harris who takes over from Mark Bonner. Picture: Keith Heppell

“It’s about trying to be calm and assessing the players. If you look at the balance of the squad, straight away you look at Liam Bennett as the only out-and-out right back within the group. If we lose Liam through injury, then how does that affect us. We have to think, ‘what if?’ as well.”

“Recently results have been tough to take for everybody after a fantastic start. For me it’s about building confidence quickly, bringing continuity in my messages and team selection if possible but trying to build foundations quickly within the group. That means trying to eradicate the fear of the bottom four but also trying to push up the league as well.”



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