BY MAX HALL
AFC Wimbledon players have been united in their praise of long-serving coach Simon Bassey, who stepped in as caretaker-manager after the departure of Neal Ardley.
“If Bass did get it, I know the players would be delighted,” said midfielder Anthony Wordsworth on Saturday, referring to the permanent managerial position.
“All I can say is Bass has been brilliant. In the last two weeks, training has been spot on.”
The Camden-born midfielder said he felt he had benefited from Bassey’s willingness to take a fresh look at the entire squad.
“[For] the boys that aren’t playing, it’s a clean slate for everyone, I think Bass said that last week,” said the 29-year-old. “While he’s in charge, there’s going to be a clean slate for everyone, so whoever trains the best is going to play, that’s the only fair way to go about it.
“If a new manager comes in, the lads that aren’t playing will get a clean slate, a bit like myself since Neal Ardley’s gone – I’ve had two games now where I think I’ve done well.”
Fellow midfielder Liam Trotter was also quick to support the caretaker-boss.
“We’re looking forward to whoever comes in, but at the same time, in the last couple of weeks with Bass, he’s done really well and galvanised [the team]. He’s brought some of his own ideas and I think you can see that.”
The man himself at the weekend, again insisted he was not interested in the full-time post and, when asked what changes he had made at the club, pointed to the arrival of a former Millwall man as part of his backroom team.
“I brought Steven Reid in to help me when the club asked me to do the job,” said Bassey of the former Ireland international, last seen coaching at Crystal Palace in August. “Steven’s got to take a lot of credit – a fantastic coach, absolutely solid gold human being, the lads will back me up, no doubt. We make ’em work hard, we’re firm with ’em, we let ’em have fun sometimes.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Dons midfielder Wordsworth, who said: “There’s a real team spirit. In the last week or so everyone’s been together, training’s been brilliant. Steven Reid’s come in and been awesome and it’s been fun. I don’t like saying that, because it’s not fun losing every week, but [they are] just trying to change the atmosphere a little bit, and I thought, second half [against Southend] you could see we enjoyed it.”