Exeter boss: I always believed in these players

Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale
Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale
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Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale said he always believed this current crop of players was among the best he’s ever coached - even when they were bottom of the league.

The Grecians were rock bottom of League Two in November, with only Newport and relegated Leyton Orient spending more days in the drop zone than them this term.

But Tisdale, who is the second longest serving manager in England behind Arsene Wenger, insisted he always had belief in his men.

“At the start of the year people were questioning me and the squad and there’s only so much you can do,” he said.

“However, there are quotes I made where we were bottom of the league and I said this was the best group of players I’d had in about seven or eight years that were probably scoffed at the time.

“As a manager you’ve got to believe in the players and there was no difference with the spirit and attitude in the players than there was leading into this game.

“They’ve been behind each other and it’s been a very determined 30 games to go from bottom of the league to a play-off final and we’ve still got another one to go, so let’s not eulogise too much.

“We’re now having the opportunity of a great day out and I don’t want it to just be a great day out, I want it to be a successful day out – I’ve won there before and I’ve lost there before, I know what it feels like to do both.”

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Tisdale also added that he and the players never lost faith even during November when a late defeat at Carlisle United sent them bottom of the table and the team spirit they have in the camp saw them through.

Exeter, just like Blackpool, secured their passage to the Wembley final thanks to an entertaining 6-5 aggregate win against Carlisle.

The Cumbrians battled back in the second leg and looked to have forced extra time, only for Jack Stacey to win it with a sweet strike in stoppage time.

Tisdale added: “It was very exciting and it was a strange feeling because I was more nervous at 2-1 and the fact we were holding on for the last five minutes.

“But once they scored their goal there was a strange acceptance that we’d have to go and get another.

“We said that if they score two, we’ll score three, if they score three, we’ll score four.

“We spoke all week about how they’d come back at us so many times, they’re so good at it that we just thought crikey, we need to keep attacking.”