Mark Bonner wants Cambridge United to harness frustration in League One clash with Sunderland
Cambridge United will try to harness the frustration of dropped points in midweek when they face Sunderland at a sell-out Abbey Stadium in League One on Saturday (November 27).
They were on course for all three points against Wigan Athletic in midweek, only to concede two goals in the last six minutes to draw 2-2.
Despite the disappointment of the timing of the Latics’ goals, it was a good display by the U’s.
“We go into another good game this weekend a little bit enthused by that performance,” said U’s head coach Mark Bonner, “but also trying to bottle up the frustration and anger of the game to put into Saturday’s game to make sure we’re at the right level.”
The match against Lee Johnson’s Sunderland, who are sixth, will be the U’s fourth game against a top-eight side in their last four league games in a gruelling schedule of fixtures.
“The games keep coming for us and we have to just keep finding those next levels all the time,” said Bonner.
“We’re doing a great job in that sense. I’m so pleased with how the lads have reacted to the challenge of the opposition but also just the number of games that we’re playing.
“I think they’re handling it brilliantly. The atmosphere around the training ground is terrific. There is a real togetherness, the boys are finding a voice really well.
“The dressing room is great, the feedback to each other is good. There is a real edge about us. People are quite happy to fall out with each other which I think is fantastic but not carry it into any moments beyond that.
“We’ve got a really good culture developing.
“I think in that sense in terms of how we behave and the conduct we have, and the culture and values we work under and our environment, and also our performance levels as a team, we’re nowhere near where we’re going to be yet, but we’re making really good progress towards it.
“That’s really encouraging.”
In the unrelenting schedule, it has been about finding the right balance and needs of the squad.
Some of the players require intense training sessions to have them at the right level required to slot straight into the starting line-up, while others need to ease off in order not to be burnt out.
There is also the aspect of mental fatigue, having to continually adjust to the challenges of the next opponent.
“I try to keep quiet as much as I can so when something is worth saying, it hooks people a little bit,” said Bonner.
“I think part of the creativity about how we present and what we present, how we coach, how we teach the players is we have to try to change that a little bit to keep things fresh.
“But at the same time we can’t get away from the fact it’s repetitive and you do want a bit of consistency and routine around things.
“You’re just relying on people to be really professional and focus their brains in on the work when we need to because we’re not talking about hours upon hours of doing it.
“We’re talking about short boosts of time, and everybody is capable of that. It’s just a little bit of professionalism to get their mind focussed.
“But it is tough.”