CRAIG Brewster has one watchword for the Plymouth Argyle team: ‘Focus’.
Understandably, everyone connected with Argyle is very much looking forward to Monday’s trip to Wembley. The Green Army are expected to number around 34,000 for the club’s second visit to the home of English football, and all eyes will be on the 11 Pilgrims that take to the field.
Argyle assistant manager Craig is putting all external pressures and distractions out of his mind winning the game and promotion to Sky Bet League 1.
Derek Adams brought assistant Craig with him upon his arrival last June and the, along with Argyle living legend Paul Wotton, they formed a very effective management trio.
Brewster has taken part in finals at the home of Scottish football, Hampden Park, as a player and even scored the winner in the 1994 Scottish Cup final against Rangers. This experience showed in how he clearly has knowledge of how to deal with such a big occasion and is not flustered by the prospect of such a large attendance at a famous stadium whilst there is a job to be done.
“We have to go there to play and try and win a game of football, that’s our only focus,” he said. “I’ve had a good and long career – I’m just trying to pass on to these players to enjoy it while they can because it goes very quickly.
“I’ve been doing the same job as I’ve always done, making sure everybody is ready and on their toes, because we can get carried away in certain situations. It’s a game of football so everybody else, the fans, can get carried away but we - the players and the staff - have got a job to do.
“There is no better feeling than winning a cup final - the guys will be heroes and that’s what they’ve got to try and achieve together. The players here have got an opportunity to go to Wembley and perform. Come three o’clock on Monday, it’s who performs better that will go to League 1.”
Argyle have had an extended break since Peter Hartley’s late, late header earned them a chance to play for promotion and Craig shared his view on that and how the way the players have worked this season has enabled the coaching staff to trust them with some time off.
He said: “We’re certainly together. We’ve had some real tough games and the semi-final with two good teams going at it hammer and tongs. We lose a goal in the first two minutes but we don’t panic; everybody sticks together and grinds it out. To finish the way we did, I just felt we had more legs in the second half. We got the goal at a magnificent time when it’s difficult for them to come back.
“It’s been very much low key since, the next couple of days will be real preparation and getting their minds on it but of late it’s just been a case of trying to tick them over and keep them fit and strong. The players have done things off the pitch together and we’ve had good training sessions.
“They’ve been professional all season and I think the response we’ve had from day one this season has been really positive. The fans have seen that, followed us and backed the players - it’s great for them to have this final game.”
Brewster finished by sharing his review of his own season and the team’s thus far, along with going into detail about how pleased he has been working with the rest of the Pilgrims’ backroom staff since he arrived almost a year ago.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season,” he said. “I worked with Derek in Scotland for two years and when he asked me to come down here I was absolutely delighted. It’s just slotted in again as if we were never away, so that’s been a real positive. From day one the response we’ve had from the players was really good and that’s continued and especially being up there all season, it’s never easy to win games, and we’ve won our fair share.
“I know my role and so does Paul (Wotton), who has fitted in brilliantly. The three of us on get on really well. The physio (Paul Atkinson) and the kit man (Neil Lunnon) have all played their part as well.
“People are here to see the 11 on the pitch but to make these players perform well they’ve got to be happy and fit and strong. Everyone has been very welcoming, the first day I arrived I said to Derek this just feels like a great place to be, so let’s just hope we can finish in style.”