Friday, February 22, 2013

'Life's A Gas' Meets... Michael Smith

In the second of a new fortnightly feature I've caught up with right back Michael Smith, and asked him about the vast improvement in our defensive record under John Ward, how much he enjoys representing the club and which of his team mates has the best banter. Smudge also speaks about adjusting to the English game following his switch from Ballymena United and keeping Danny Woodards out the team. 

Read on to see what he had to say when we spoke post-Rotherham:

NB: Hi Michael! I'm sure you're very disappointed that we lost 2-1 to Rotherham on Tuesday night. Do you think we should have got something from the game?

MS: Yes, the whole team were hurt about the result the other night. We conceded 2 sloppy goals which is disappointing but we have to bounce back on Saturday against Morecambe. 

NB: Despite the defeat it's fair to say there is a terrific spirit around the club at the moment, how are you enjoying the atmosphere at the moment?

MS: The atmosphere and attitude from everyone around the club, including the fans, is fantastic at the minute. It's great to see and just what is needed for the club. For me personally its great to feel the enthusiasm from everyone.

NB: What has been the key to our fantastic run of form since John Ward took over as manager? Is it simply an injection of confidence that wasn't there earlier in the season or is it more to do with the tactical changes he has made?

MS: Since the new gaffer has come in he has instilled in us that our attitude has to be spot on both on and off the pitch if we were to get out of the relegation zone. This change in attitude and positivity, along with bringing in a few great players, has really improved our squad and therefore our performances too.

NB: There can be no denying that the most impressive part of our improvement is how solid the team look, particularly in defence. How important is it to have a settled back 4 week in, week out?

MS: As everyone knows, we conceded a hell of a lot of goals in the first part of the season. Since the new gaffer has come in we have worked a lot on our defensive shape and along with the settled back four we have conceded a lot less goals which is what we needed to do.

NB: You're fast becoming a fan favourite amongst Gasheads and are one of the first names on the teamsheet each week - things are looking good for you personally as well as part of the team! How pleased are you to have made the right back spot your own ahead of Danny Woodards, who was regarded as one of the best full backs in the division last season?

MS: I'm delighted to have played all the games under the new gaffer. He has alot of confidence in me which other managers didn't, so for that I thank him. Danny is a great player and I have learnt so much from him he will continue to be a big part of the team as he has been playing in other positions and is doing fantasticaly well which is great news for us.

NB: Your experience last year has undoubtedly stood you in good stead for this campaign. Would it be fair to say it took you a while to grow accustomed to the professional game in England after moving from Ballymena United?

MS: I have to say that it did take me a while to adjust to the English game but I wouldnt change last season for the world. The ups and downs I had will remind me what needs to be done to continue playing for Bristol Rovers in the Football League.

NB: Gasheads are hoping you want to commit to the club for the next few years if offered a new contract, is that something you'd like to do?

MS: I'm loving my time here at the minute and I'm very settled living in Bristol, so I would definitely like to remain a player for Bristol Rovers if I'm offered a new contract. But, that's in the future, we need to concentrate on making sure we stay in League 2 before any talk about my future.

NB: Whilst we're not mathematically safe yet, the general consensus among supporters and pundits is that if Rovers can keep the nucleus of this squad together, along with 2-3 summer additions, the side is good enough to compete at the top end of the table next season. Do you think that is a realistic ambition?

MS: As I've said earlier, we need to firstly concentrate on making sure we secure our Football League position. Who knows what will happen next season? This squad definitely has the potential and all it takes is a good level of consistency to become a top 6 team.

NB: Now time for a couple of questions based on your team mates! Rovers fans who regularly use Twitter have commented on how refreshing it is to see the players having banter with each other. How good is the team spirit at the moment?

MS: The team spirit is fantastic at the club - everyone enjoys coming in to training every day and having a bit of banter with the boys. All of this just adds to the togetherness we have on the pitch.

NB: Boris Minaj seems like a funny character (we've all made a good guess as to who it is!), would the player behind that Twitter account be the man with the best banter, or does somebody else take that crown?!

MS: Boris Minaj is a bit of banter but I'm not saying any more than that...! There's a few boys that crack me up but I'd have to say either Seanan Clucas or Matt Gill have the best banter.

NB: Thank you for your time today Michael, it's much appreciated. Before you go, have you got a message for Rovers fans ahead of the final 2 months of the season?

MS: My message to the fans is to keep doing what you are doing as you have been fantastic for us both home and away. Definitely the best fans in the league and our 12th man.

NB: Cheers mate, best of luck to you and the lads ahead of tomorrow's game with Morecambe.

Catch Michael on Twitter: @M_Smith1988

1 comment:

  1. Well done Nath, nice interview. I like this feature on the blog. Its definitely good to hear that Smithy is so settled at Rovers. In my opinion he has to be one of the most improved players over the last year.


Leave your thoughts...