Funso Ojo has been talking openly about Nick Daws’ departure, Stuart McCall’s impact, training levels and how the team is shaping up under the new manager.
The Scunthorpe midfielder was one of the sides top performers last season, but just like his teammates, he has so far struggled to reach the levels he was performing at last year.
The Belgian admitted that it was a tough start to the season for the Iron players and that it has taken them some time to adjust to the managerial changes at the club.
“I think we are in, maybe, a moment after pre-season, because the new manager stepped in quite late. The best thing would have been if we had just started the season with the new manager because I think that would have been easy,” Ojo told BBC Radio Humberside.
“I think now we all know what the manager wants from us, we know what to show, we get to know each other better in his system and we are going to get the results from that now. You can see that the last two games we played really good football, we just conceded really sill goals. But the football that we showed, is the football that we want to play.”
The United midfielder believes that Nick Daws did not have it easy in his time as the permanent boss, given the injuries within the side.
“I was happy with Daws. I had a good connection with him. I just think, if you wanted to change the manager, we should have done it from the beginning or give him some extra time and just see.
“We had some difficult games in the beginning. Duane was injured, I was injured, we just came back from injury, Josh missed the whole part of pre-season. So the players who should carry the team a little bit were not 100%, so that didn’t help the manager then either.”
Ojo admitted that the first few training sessions under Stuart McCall were tough, but that the Iron boss is keeping the players on their toes.
“The hardest part was the way the manager started training because he wanted to see the new players, so I think the first couple of days we were outside for more than two hours and then we had another session in the afternoon and then the next day again.
“There were some small injuries coming up because we weren’t used to that.”
He continued” But the manager came in with a smile. He is always laughing, sometimes you don’t know if he is serious or if he is joking. There are a lot of times where he is sarcastic, but he keeps us on our toes and that’s a good thing.”
“You always have some players in your group who think, ‘oh I can train on 30%,’ but then all of a sudden you hear a big voice like, ‘you’re training to play – five knees or five push-ups, 20 push-ups,’ so he always keeps you on your toes and that’s what gets you to a better level.”
With regards to that, the midfielder was not shy about calling out one player in particular who could be giving more on the training ground.
“He wouldn’t like me saying this, but Humps (Stephen Humphrys) is one of those players who I already know Tuesday’s and Thursday’s that’s Stevie Humps.
“You have to trigger him a little bit and say, ‘oh are you training today?’ and then the last 45 minutes he’s on flames. But if you’re not triggering him, a player like that, he just goes through the motions, shows up at 10, does his training and goes home.
“Maybe, if you didn’t talk to him, you wouldn’t even notice they were here, and now they are actually training and that translates to a game on Saturday.”
United perhaps haven’t seen the absolute best of Stephen Humphrys yet, but there is great confidence in his ability behind the scenes.
“The manager has said it in the dressing room. Stevie has everything to be a brilliant football, he is tall, good in the air, he can shoot with both feet unbelievably, one on ones he is strong.
“So if he comes in and trains like Cristiano (Ronaldo) every day, he has everything to be a brilliant player and help us on the pitch. The thing is, if you are a more experienced defender, you know what to against him now a bit, but if he feels like it, there is nothing stopping him.”
The Iron are currently shipping goals left, right and centre but the 27-year-old does not put that down to a lack of ability at the back.
“I don’t think its a matter of defending – it’s just sharpness or focus. I don’t think it’s guarding your opponent on the wrong side or anything like that. I just think it’s focus, being alert and maybe a bit of nonchalance,” said Ojo.
He added: “It is frustrating that we are playing this football, we all want to play this football and Luton, for the first half, we were dominating them. We went into the dressing room and you are two-nil behind.
“Peterborough, again we were dominating them in the first half and at 0-0, I would have never have thought that at the end I would be sitting in the dressing room with a defeat. As well as we are playing now, we have to score too many goals to get a comfortable win, I think.”
In recent weeks, the Belgian believes he has formed a good partnership with the now-injured Matt Lund.
“We have a good connection. Yeah, I am going to miss him for a while, but it’s up to whoever it is now, probably James (Perch) to step up and he felt for the last few weeks or months that he is ready to play, so he can step up now and fill in.
“The last two games, where we were dominating the games, we had a good partnership, in him going forward and I would stay and the other way around. He always said, ‘you get on the ball and I’ll do the runs,’ and I think that’s a good understanding.”
On a personal level, the central midfielder is much happier with his game recently and feels as though he is getting back to the form he showed last season.
“I am really happy with my last two games, so I am comfortable now in the way we are playing. I had a chat with the gaffer about me not controlling the games as much as last season, but the other opponents know me now as well.
“The last two games were better, we found a way. We were are training in a way and the gaffer wants me to have the ball. I’m feeling quite good now.
“The gaffer gave me the freedom to go somewhere on the pitch and rearrange the left side a bit more, how I want it so I can get on the ball, so that’s a nice feeling as well that he gives you that freedom.”
Looking ahead to the Iron’s next three matches against Wycombe, Blackpool and Plymouth, Ojo does not believe it will be as straightforward as it looks on paper.
“This might be one of the hardest weeks coming up because you go into the games with the feeling we should win these ones and then if you drop some points in the first one, you might take that with you to the next one.
“But, the other way around, if you win the first one, it gives you an extra boost and you win the follow-ups.”