Dino Maamria Q&A: Stevenage boss on Cheltenham, sneaking into the play-offs, Kurtis Guthrie's Player of the Month snub and more
PUBLISHED: 18:12 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:12 03 May 2019
CometSport's Dan Mountney sat down with Stevenage boss Dino Maamria ahead of Boro's final Sky Bet League Two game of the season, a must-win clash with Cheltenham. Read on for Dino's take on the game, needing results to go their way to make the play-offs, Kurtis Guthrie and much more.
Dan Mountney: It's been a long season and tomorrow is a must-win game to make the play-offs. What are your thoughts on the game against Cheltenham?
Dino Maamria: “I think it's fantastic for the football club. The journey we have made from where we came from in the last two seasons, to be involved in a promotion push in the last game of the season is exciting. It's exciting for the town. When I took the job, that's where I wanted to be coming into the last game of the season. I'd like to be in a better position, but at the minute we are in the mix.”
Dan Mountney: You need to rely on other results going your way tomorrow if you are to sneak in. Are you going to be looking at those scores during the game?
Dino Maamria: “I just had a meeting with the players about this and I think you can easily lose focus. We've got a tough game and we've got to do what we've been doing the past five or six games. Let's win the game and let the rest look after itself. That was my message to the players this morning. Let's not take it for granted we are going to win. Cheltenham have been in decent form lately, they are playing without fear and have been quite ambitious. They could be a dangerous side.”
Dan Mountney: Do you think it's good that the pressure maybe isn't on your side as much?
Dino Maamria: “We'll put pressure on ourselves. We've got pride in our performances and we know we can win every game and put in a performance like Mansfield last weekend. I put pressure on the players to see those types of performances. In terms of where we are, we are a small club and we've got to be punching above our weight. Our work ethic and togetherness will get us through.”
Dan Mountney: The fans are going to be really important tomorrow. They've been superb in recent weeks.
Dino Maamria: “They have been absolutely awesome. I think Mansfield had 8,000 or 9,000 last week and all you can hear is our fans from the first to the last minute. It was fantastic to celebrate with them. Against Exeter it was a really tough game but our fans stuck with us. Tomorrow is no different, we need those fans. There will be certain moments where we are under pressure and we'll need them. They've been fantastic all season and I'm sure they will be there with us tomorrow.”
Dan Mountney: Is there anyone out tomorrow?
Dino Maamria: “There are one or two doubtful. What's been good has been the squad players who've come in, they've been fantastic.”
Dan Mountney: Talk to me about the player and manager of the month award. I thought you were a shoo-in to win.
Dino Maamria: “I've got a lot of messages saying exactly that. The panel pick whatever they pick. Obviously me and Kurtis aren't fashionable faces. I think what is for sure is that no one can take away we were in April, points per game the best team, scored more goals than anyone else, and if you tell me any forward has been better than Kurtis Guthrie in the past four or five weeks then I must be in the wrong job. Kurtis has been the best centre-forward in this league, the league above, the league above that and the league above that. If you tell me he's not player of the month I'm not having it one bit. That's what will fuel us though. We've always been underdogs.”
Dan Mountney: Hopefully tomorrow won't be the end of Stevenage's season, but if it is, how have you found your first full season in charge?
Dino Maamria: “Very enjoyable. Exactly how I imagined it to be. My biggest disappointment is not having the cup run we wanted, but in terms of the season we've had some fantastic games, especially those away ones where there has been last minute goals. It has been amazing to share it with the fans and I've enjoyed it immensely.
Dan Mountney: I think I know what game you are going to say, but what has been your favourite?
Dino Maamria: “Absolutely last week against Mansfield. You were probably thinking Lincoln but definitely Mansfield. When they celebrated against us at home it was a crude way. They celebrated in an unprofessional way, banging the doors and all the rest of it, so last week was sweet. Not just that, but we played them off the park. We didn't just beat them, we beat them properly.”